Fritz Haber with Albert Einstein
photo of Fritz Haber with Albert Einstein
A number of unsubstantiated reports credit Fritz Haber with the synthesis MDMA in 1891. But if so, no evidence survives. The formula for MDMA is not found in Ueber einige Derivate des Piperonals (Berlin G. Schade, 1891). Haber gained greatest recognition for his work on the fixation of nitrogen from air. He won the Nobel Prize in 1918 for the "synthesis of ammonia from its elements". The award of the prize was controversial. As head of the German Chemical Warfare Service during WWI, Haber had convinced the German Imperial Army to use gas-weapons he had devised as a means of breaking through Allied front-lines. Today, readers of the popular press and even mainstream scientific literature might find it hard to decide whether poison-gas or the deadly neurotoxin Ecstasy/MDMA pose a greater threat to human health.
Alexander and Ann Shulgin