This Day In History: November 16

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On this day in history, November 16th…

1938 : Swiss chemist Dr. Albert Hofmann became the first person to invent Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, better known as LSD. Dr. Hofmann first synthesized the drug at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland,  as part of a research program to find medical derivatives of ergot, a type of fungus found on rye. At that time though, Dr. Hofmann was unaware of the drug’s psychotropic or hallucinogenic effects until 5 years later when he ingested the substance and found the effects to be much stronger than he had anticipated. Arguing that LSD was a valuable substance for psychiatry, although there was and still is no substantial evidence of it providing any  therapeutic value, the Sandoz Laboratories started manufacturing and selling LSD as a psychiatric drug, under the trade name Delysid, in 1947.

1988: Robin Givens filed papers to sue Mike Tyson for $125 million dollars.  Mike Tyson and Robin Givens were only married for 8 months, all of which Robin Givens describes as “a living hell.”  When they filed for a divorce in October, she claimed she didn’t want any of Mike Tyson’s money.  However, a month later she said claimed that she was suing him because of  Tyson’s comments in the New York Post article dated November 7th, that she called, “false, defamatory, malicious and heinous”.  Tyson’s attorney, called the accusations “outrageous”, adding that Given’s suit “shows her disdain for Mike Tyson.”  Hell hath no furry and all that…

1973 : President Nixon authorized the construction of the Alaskan pipeline.  The need for such a pipeline was mostly because the nation’s oil requirements had exceeded its production capacity causing an oil crisis, which in turn gave rise to higher oil prices all over the United States. He felt the U.S. needed to tap into its own resources rather than relying on foreign sources. He announced that the pipeline project would be completed in 1977.  The project attracted tens of thousands of workers causing an influx of population to Valdez, Fairbanks and Anchorage. The first barrel of oil traveled through the  pipeline in June 1977 and as of 2010, the pipeline has shipped 16 million barrels of oil.

2001 : Based on the first book in the series, the first Harry Potter movie was released today in 2001. London film producer David Heyman first received a copy of the very first Harry Potter book, in what would later become a seven-book series, by author J.K Rowling in 1997. Judging the book by just its cover, it was placed in the low-priority pile at the office, until it was discovered by a secretary who read the book and was impressed with the story. She passed on the book to Heyman himself telling him it was very good. At first glance, Heyman thought the title was “rubbish”, but read the book nonetheless. He saw great potential in the books for making them into movies and convinced J. K Rowling to sell the film rights for the first 4 books of the series to Warner Bros. Although hesitant at first, because she didn’t want them to have control over the rest of the story, or to write their own sequels with her characters, Rowling finally agreed to sell the rights for about £1 million (almost $2,000,000) in 1999. She also had a few demands for the movies, like for example, she wanted the main cast to be British and she wanted to have overall approval of the scripts in order to keep her characters true to the spirit of the books, even if they had to change the story a little for better cinematic structure. For the first movie, Steven Spielberg had been approached to direct the film, but he declined saying it was bound to be a success no matter what and that wasn’t challenging enough for him. Director Chris Columbus of family films such as “Home Alone” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” was then chosen for the first movie. The movie was released on  16 November, 2001 and made more than $974 million at the worldwide box office.

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