Hoffman Discovers LSD: Science or Luck? – from The Science of Being Lucky audiobook by Nick Trenton

There are many instances of luck in the field of science, from the notion that an apple fell onto Isaac Newton’s head, prompting him to investigate the concept of gravity, to the invention of Viagra, which was originally supposed to be a heart medication.

The case study I want to focus on is the development and subsequent discovery of LSD.

The discovery of LSD may be of dubious utility to most, but the point is that it demonstrates a path that took extreme openness and curiosity to fulfill.

00:43 Albert Hoffman discovered LSD in 1943, but it was the result of years of a zig-zag path that began with the intent to create a medical compound to combat ergot, a fungus that was responsible for thousands of deaths as a result of tainted food stores.

02:30 One day while at work in his lab with close exposure to the substance, he suddenly felt so mentally uncomfortable that he had to go home for the day.

05:57 Hoffman began testing the substance on animals, and he noted that animals had curious reactions similar to his.

So how does the curious case of LSD exemplify the presence of luck in scientific discovery?

Hoffman approached LSD in a way that all but guaranteed a lucky discovery.

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Categories: Voice over Work