Earlier today (April 29th, 2008) Albert Hofmann, the Swiss born scientist best known for synthesizing Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (aka LSD), died of a heart attack. He was 102 years old. Two years ago in 2006, coinciding with his hundredth birthday, there was an international symposium (see clip below) -- with a good deal of publicity surrounding it at the time -- on his mind altering creation.
In addition to synthesizing LSD in 1938, Hoffman, known as the "Father of LSD," was also the first to synthesize psilocybin -- the active constituent of 'magic mushrooms' in 1958. He was also the author of several books including The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogen and LSD: My Problem Child. Additionally he wrote in excess of a hundred scientific articles.
Born in Baden, Switzerland in 1906, Hofmann graduated from the University of Zürich with a degree in chemistry in 1929 and went to work for Sandoz Pharmaceutical in Basel, Switzerland. This involved years of laboratory research which led him on to the study of Claviceps purpurea (ergot) and ergot alkaloids. This led his research to spend a few years working his way through the lysergic acid derivatives. He eventually arrived at synthesizing LSD-25 in 1938.
According to sources after minimal testing, LSD-25 was set aside as Hofmann continued with other derivatives, only four years later in 1943, re-synthesizing LSD-25 because he felt he might have missed something the first time around. And on that day in April of 1943 he was the very first human to experience the effects of LSD after accidentally ingesting a tiny amount of the mind-altering drug. Although he stopped working in research several years ago, Hofmann continued to write and work as lecturer and spokesman on psychedelics right up until the time of his death.