When Kevin Herbert has a particularly intractable programming problem, or finds himself pondering a big career decision, he deploys a powerful mind expanding tool -- LSD-25.
"It must be changing something about the internal communication in my brain. Whatever my inner process is that lets me solve problems, it works differently, or maybe different parts of my brain are used, " said Herbert, 42, an early employee of Cisco Systems who says he solved his toughest technical problems while tripping to drum solos by the Grateful Dead -- who were among the many artists inspired by LSD.
"When I'm on LSD and hearing something that's pure rhythm, it takes me to another world and into anther brain state where I've stopped thinking and started knowing," said Herbert who intervened to ban drug testing of technologists at Cisco Systems.
Herbert, who lives in Santa Cruz, California, joined 2,000 researchers, scientists, artists and historians gathered here over the weekend to celebrate the 100th birthday of Albert Hofmann, the Swiss chemist who discovered LSD here in 1938. The centenarian received a congratulatory birthday letter from the Swiss president, roses and a spontaneous kiss from a young woman in the crowd.
In many ways, the conference, LSD: Problem Child and Wonder Drug, an International Symposium on the Occasion of the 100th Birthday of Albert Hofmann, was a scientific coming-out party for the drug Hofmann fathered.
"LSD wanted to tell me something," Hofmann told the gathering Friday. "It gave me an inner joy, an open mindedness, a gratefulness, open eyes and an internal sensitivity for the miracles of creation."
Bent with age but still eloquent, Hofmann said he hoped the symposium would encourage the renewed therapeutic and spiritual use of LSD in supervised settings.