How Basel Changed the World


Cortisone and Vitamin C
Tadeus Reichsten

Tadeus Reichstein was the first person to completely describe a vitamin, thus facilitating the industrial production of Vitamin C. Together with the Americans Edward Kendall and Philip Hench he received the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of cortisone and its therapeutic effect against rheumatism.






LSD – the stuff dreams are made of
Albert Hofmann

While trying to discover a cardiovascular agent, chemist Albert Hofmann instead came into contact with a liquid bringing him into an intoxication-like condition. This way he discovered LSD and, after undergoing further self-experiments, became astonished at the strong effects even very small doses had.





The Beginning of a medical Revolution

Paracelsus became Basel’s head doctor after he successfully saved a printer’s leg from an impending amputation in 1526. Sadly his medical reforms run into opposition. He then left Basel and carried his medical insights into other parts of the world, causing a medical revolution in the process.






Spinach for Popeye
Gustav von Bunge

The nutrition researcher Gustav von Bunge created a list that presented spinach as the food with the highest amount of iron. But the list was interpreted wrongly as its statistic was based on dry spinach powder, which has an iron concentration ten times higher than common spinach. Nevertheless the list meant that a growing number of kids were then being led to eat spinach like Popeye, whom the spinach turns into a muscle man.





DDT – Poison for the world
Paul Müller

Paul Müller discovered the effects of DDT as an insecticide, making it a worldwide sales hit. But with time the insects became resistant to its effect, and experience began to show that it took a long time for the insecticide to decompose. Thus DDT became a symbol for environmental pollution, inadvertently triggering new, ecological ways of approaching the environment.






Explosive gun cotton
Christian Friedrich Schönbein

Christian Friedrich Schönbein discovered ozone and later also determinded a method to detect it. The smell of ozone reminded him of nitric acid, so he began widening his research to other substances. Combined with cotton the acid created an explosive effect. The resulting ‘gun cotton’ found no use on the market, but still became widely known and inspired Johann Strauss’ son to compose the Explosions-Polka.