This whole blog may end up being a dumb idea, so what’s to stop me right now? The dumbness involves trying to start a project – an actual project that may have actual relevance to chemistry. If this project falls flat on its face, no big deal… it will only be a minor embarrassment. If it achieves some modicum of results then maybe it would be a noteworthy first in synthetic organic chemistry.

First, some background:

One night, while trying to prove a point to a friend of mine, I suddenly found a need to obtain a black light. Back then, my 10 speed Schwinn wasn’t much for long rides in the dark to Walmart and the only thing within walking distance that might have what I was looking for was a headshop about a 1000 feet from campus. Anyway, this was my first exchange in one of those stores. I always assumed hippies used black lights as part of the drug usage ritual and, without much surprise, they did have quite a wide selection. Now, while I was there I found some jars filled with plant bits that the stoner/hippie/communications major clerk was telling me was, Salvia Divinorum (sage) and a totally legal high and would be awesome and trippy.

sageplant.JPG

I explained to him that I’m sXe and don’t partake in the smoking of gateway placebos, no matter how much peer pressure he applied. I was nevertheless curious about it so I immediately sprung to action with the literature and discovered that indeed it does have a hallucinogen in it called Salvinorin A and no one has attempted to do a total synthesis…

salvinorin-a_structure.pngThe drug is interesting in that it is an opioid agonist that causes hallucinations. It was my understanding that such hallucinogens typically work on some serotonin receptors. Given that, according to Aldous Huxley, hallucinogens contain the key to The Doors of Perception (which is required reading) an elucidation of the action of this compound could be used to further understand of “perception.” How better to prepare structural isomers as analogues than to have a road map to build the whole thing? So, I guess a retro synthetic route should be a good first start… but it’s late and I’ve got to go to bed, so I’ll let you clever people think about it. This is clearly within the domain of my good cohort, Paul Docherty, who will hopefully one day come back to my little site and see this and give it a go. If there are any groups that are currently trying to synthesize this compound, please drop me a line and maybe I’ll nix the project. Kylefinchsigmate at gmail dot com.

This project is
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