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Nobel Prize genius Crick was high on LSD when he discovered the secret of life

Posted by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 8:11 PM
  • 10 Replies

August 8, 2004


FRANCIS CRICK, the Nobel Prize-winning father of modern genetics, was under the influence of LSD when he first deduced thedouble-helix structure of DNA nearly 50 years ago.

The abrasive and unorthodox Crick and his brilliant American co-researcher James Watson famously celebrated their eureka moment in March 1953 by running from the now legendary Cavendish Laboratory in
Cambridge to the nearby Eagle pub, where they announced over pints of bitter that they had discovered the secret of life.

Crick, who died ten days ago, aged 88, later told a fellow scientist that he often used small doses of LSD then an experimental drug used in psychotherapy to boost his powers of thought. He said it was LSD, not
the Eagle's warm beer, that helped him to unravel the structure of DNA, the discovery that won him the Nobel Prize.

Despite his Establishment image, Crick was a devotee of novelist Aldous Huxley, whose accounts of his experiments with LSD and another hallucinogen, mescaline, in the short stories The Doors Of Perception and Heaven And Hell became cult texts for the hippies of the Sixties and Seventies. In the late Sixties, Crick was a founder member of Soma, a legalise-cannabis group named after the drug in Huxley's novel Brave New World. He even put his name to a famous letter to The Times in 1967 calling for a reform in the drugs laws.

It was through his membership of Soma that Crick inadvertently became the inspiration for the biggest LSD manufacturing conspiracy-the world has ever seen the multimillion-pound drug factory in a remote 
farmhouse in Wales that was smashed by the Operation Julie raids of the late Seventies.

Crick's involvement with the gang was fleeting but crucial. The revered scientist had been invited to the Cambridge home of freewheeling American writer David Solomon a friend of hippie LSD guru Timothy
Leary who had come to Britain in 1967 on a quest to discover a method for manufacturing pure THC, the active ingredient of cannabis.

It was Crick's presence in Solomon's social circle that attracted a brilliant young biochemist, Richard Kemp, who soon became a convert to the attractions of both cannabis and LSD. Kemp was recruited to the THC project in 1968, but soon afterwards devised the world's first foolproof method of producing cheap, pure LSD. Solomon and Kemp went into business, manufacturing acid in a succession of rented houses before setting up their laboratory in a cottage on a hillside near Tregaron, Carmarthenshire, in 1973. It is estimated that Kemp manufactured drugs worth Pounds 2.5 million an astonishing amount in the Seventies before police stormed the building in 1977 and seized enough pure LSD and its constituent chemicals to make two million LSD 'tabs'.

The arrest and conviction of Solomon, Kemp and a string of co-conspirators dominated the headlines for months. I was covering the case as a reporter at the time and it was then that I met Kemp's close friend, Garrod Harker, whose home had been raided by police but who had not been arrest ed. Harker told me that
Kemp and his girlfriend Christine Bott by then in jail were hippie idealists who were completely uninterested in the money they were making.

They gave away thousands to pet causes such as the Glastonbury pop festival and the drugs charity Release.

'They have a philosophy,' Harker told me at the time. 'They believe industrial society will collapse when the oil runs out and that the answer is to change people's mindsets using acid. They believe LSD can help people to see that a return to a natural society based on self-sufficiency is the only way to save themselves.

'Dick Kemp told me he met Francis Crick at Cambridge. Crick had told him that some Cambridge academics used LSD in tiny amounts as a thinking tool, to liberate them from preconceptions and let their genius wander freely to new ideas. Crick told him he had perceived the double-helix shape while on LSD.

'It was clear that Dick Kemp was highly impressed and probably bowled over by what Crick had told him. He told me that if a man like Crick, who had gone to the heart of human existence, had used LSD, then it
was worth using. Crick was certainly Dick Kemp's inspiration.' Shortly afterwards I visited Crick at his home, Golden Helix, in Cambridge.

He listened with rapt, amused attention to what I told him about the role of LSD in his Nobel Prize-winning discovery. He gave no intimation of surprise. When I had finished, he said: 'Print a word of it and I'll sue.'

by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 8:11 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by Emerald Member on Sep. 14, 2011 at 9:35 PM
I discovered it a number of times when high on LSD
by Andie on Sep. 14, 2011 at 9:48 PM

I think that's great. 

I think that there are probably some things that enhance our brain power in ways we will never understand.  Or should even try.  We should just enjoy the benefits reaped. 

by Momma Moose on Sep. 14, 2011 at 9:51 PM

I found out the secret of life when I was high on salvia a few years ago. 

by on Sep. 14, 2011 at 11:04 PM

I thought mescaline was salad.

by HRH of MJ on Sep. 14, 2011 at 11:05 PM


Quoting Carpy:

I discovered it a number of times when high on LSD

 Me too.


Thank's Friday!!!

by Ruby Member on Sep. 14, 2011 at 11:11 PM

LSD the breakfast of champions!!

by on Sep. 15, 2011 at 6:15 AM

Quoting RowdyRoxyRainbw:

August 8, 2004

 In the late Sixties, Crick was a founder member of Soma, a legalise-cannabis group named after the drug in Huxley's novel Brave New World.

This is so funny...Soma, if you don't remember the book, was a WEAPON against the populace.  Its purpose was to keep the masses content, like sheep or cows.  The rule was, no one was allowed to experience discontent, and they all went along with it voluntarily.  WHY would you name your group after that?

by on Sep. 15, 2011 at 6:21 AM


by HRH of MJ on Sep. 15, 2011 at 1:37 PM

 And some people say all drugs are always bad = )


Thank's Friday!!!

by on Sep. 15, 2011 at 4:36 PM

Crick's work was extremely good. So ... now are we going to criticise someone who was under the effects of caffeine, or paracetamol, or sugar, or food colouring, or something else. Or do you imagine that everyone is perfect just like you? It is the validity of the work that counts.

LSD was very popular at that time. It was less harmful than some of the stuff going around nowadays and the manufacturing and selling was not in the hands of the criminal element to the same extent as we now experience. Times were different. Values were different. Behaviour was different.

It is not unusual, even today, for young scientists to try new things, to make new things. This is part of why they are scientists.

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