The Loh Down On Science

Absinthe

Scientists finally explain the hallucinogenic magic of the notorious green liquor.

Finally--the magic of absinthe explained!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

and on the notorious nineteenth century green liquor.

Absinthe legendarily fueled the artistry of Vincent Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec--and pretty much the rest of Belle Epoque Europe.

Absinthe is distilled from wormwood, and, some said, had a psychedelic PUNCH that enhanced creativity. Others said it caused moral decay, causing it to be banned in 1915. Now it's legal again, so a team of German chemists recently unsealed thirteen pre-ban bottles, and analyzed them.

The chemists checked for thujone-- wormwood's psychotropic ingredient. They found traces of the chemical, but none of the bottles contained enough to cause absinthe's fabled hallucinations.

What DID they find? BOOZE. LOTS of it.

Each bottle registered about seventy percent ethanol--a one hundred forty-proof wallop. Enough to make ANYONE have hallucinations of the "Where did I leave my car keys?" variety.

In comparison, most vodkas and whiskeys are eighty to one-hundred-proof.

So never mind if that Impressionist muse looked a BIT like the St. Pauli Girl. So they were three sheets to the wind--those sheets had inspiring pointillist lilies on them. Right!


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