“The simpler the molecule, the better the drug. So the best drug is oxygen. Only two atoms. The second-best, nitrous oxide – a mere three atoms. The third-best, ethanol – nine. Past that, you’re talking lots of atoms.”
- Zodiac by Neal Stephenson
Sangamon’s Principle is named after a character in Neal Stephenson’s second book, Zodiac. In the book, the character is a fan of using nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, as a recreational drug. He claims this is the best recreational drug due to the simplicity of the molecule; the idea is that more complex molecules are more unpredictable (and hence possibly more likely to have a variable effect on different people).
I avoid recreational drugs, but I am a fan of Stephenson’s work and thought this concept was really cool. Someone on Wikipedia apparently agreed with me and had made a list of recreational drugs ordered by the number of molecules, but the Wikipedians deleted it! Such an outrage! So, I’m going to put it here, and I’m going to add a few more things to the list, mostly some prescription “brain medicines.”
|14||Muscimol (Amanita muscaria)||C4H6N2O2|
|15||Gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB)||C4H8O3|
|49||Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)||C20H25N3O|