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

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.

While the story is (in)famous, is there any proof that it actually happened?

  • 9
    Did Rosalind Franklin give it to him? Nov 3, 2011 at 5:31
  • 2
    I knew Kary Mullis was when he invented the PCR (well, that's what he says, anyways), but this one on Crick comes as news to my ears...
    – nico
    Nov 3, 2011 at 7:26
  • Given the linked story only contains hearsay and that Crick refused to confirm it when it was put to him, what sort of evidence would you accept for a Yes or No answer here?
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 3, 2011 at 8:24
  • 1
    @Oddthinking - a sufficient amount of cridible witnesses saying they heard him claim that. His co-workers confirming that was a usual thing for him to do (work on LSD). Later-published memoir/statement contradicting earlier denial.
    – user5341
    Nov 3, 2011 at 12:22
  • Watson & Crick didn’t discover the double helix nature of the DNA per se – that was already known. Their achievement was to puzzle together a structure from the (also already known) constituents that was at the same time stable, formed a double helix, had the right stoichiometry, and allowed for a mechanism that encoded information. This was an extremely complicated and delicate 3D puzzle and I doubt that it could be solved while intoxicated (this is very distinct from the conceptually simple invention of PCR by Mullis) so I rather doubt the story. Nov 9, 2011 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


Biographer, Matt Ridley, reported in the New York Times that Crick experimented with marijuana and LSD.

In the book "Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code", Ridley wrote:

I am frequently asked for my opinion on the speculation that Francis Crick was on LSD when he discovered the double helix; or that he was involved with a man named Dick Kemp in the manufacture of LSD. These assertions were reported second hand in an article in the Mail on Sunday by Alun Rees following Crick's death and they have since gained a certain amount of traction on the internet. Both stories are wrong. The true story, which I was told directly by Crick's widow and by the man who (as his widow confirms) first supplied the Cricks with LSD, is much less sensational. Crick was given (not sold) LSD on several occasions from 1967 onwards by Henry Todd, who met the Cricks through his girlfriend. Todd did know Kemp, with whom he was eventually prosecuted, but the Cricks did not. As for the implausible idea that the then impoverished and conventional Crick would have had access to LSD when it was newly invented in the early 1950s, there is simply no evidence for it at all. Those who wish to argue that LSD helped Crick make discoveries should note that all his major breakthroughs in molecular biology were made before 1967. -Source

  • despite the fact that there is no evidence that crick had any access to lsd during the fifties; this timeline, as mentioned in regards to it being invented is incorrect
    – mcr
    Nov 10, 2011 at 12:32
  • 1
    LSD was first synthesized by Albert Hofmann in 1938
    – mcr
    Nov 10, 2011 at 12:33
  • 1
    Introduced by Sandoz Laboratories, with trade-name Delysid, as a drug with various psychiatric uses in 1947, LSD quickly became a therapeutic agent that appeared to show great promise.[8] In the 1950s the CIA thought it might be applicable to mind control and chemical warfare; the agency's MKULTRA research program propagated the drug among young servicemen and students. The subsequent recreational use of the drug by youth culture in the Western world during the 1960s led to a political firestorm that resulted in its prohibition.
    – mcr
    Nov 10, 2011 at 12:34

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .