Albert Hoffmann, the discoverer of LSD, passed away yesterday at the age of 102 years. He was also the first to synthesize psylocibin, the active substance of several hallucinogen mushrooms. He experimented the effects of the drugs he invented upon himself, and defended during all his life the potentially beneficial effects of LSD assumed in a controlled way.
Reading this piece of news today, I was reminded of the following anecdote about Voltaire, which my grandfather used to tell me when I was a kid:
Voltaire, who drank copious amounts of coffee throughout his life, was once told by somebody that the beverage was a slow poison. “I fully believe it. And it must be indeed very slow,” he replied, “for I have been drinking it for sixty-five years and I am not dead yet”.
Voltaire indeed died at 84, a ripe old age for his times.
I’ve heard my grandfather recounting this little story in a few occasions, while he was making coffee. However, I don’t remember him especially as a coffee enthusiast. But, even in his late years, he never refrained from drinking an healthy quantity of wine during meals, although I’ve never seen him even slightly drunk.
He died the day of his hundred and first anniversary.
Slow poisons, yeah.