Timothy Leary became the spiritual leader of the 1960s counter culture after his famous psilocybin mushroom experiments at Harvard University.
He coined a number of famous phrases like "turn on, tune in, and drop out"--which he borrowed from Marshall McLuhan--and encouraged the masses to open their minds to the higher levels of consciousness. While his original research was focused on rehabilitation of prisoners and alcoholics, the black market for psychedelic drugs like LCD and his growing public persona alarmed authorities. His original experiments at Harvard attracted beat poet Allen Ginsburg who helped to popularize Leary's theories and drew more attention from hippies and bohemians.
Rumors swirled around his Millbrook estate and the countercultural figures that it attracted but Tom Wolfe insisted in his book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test that Leary remained devoted to only scientific research through his drug use and not recreational abuse. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest author Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters were even reportedly denied access to acid. Richard Nixon called him "the most dangerous man in America" but his influence on pop culture pressed on. His book The Psychedelic Experience inspired John Lennon to write "Tomorrow Only Knows" for The Beatles Revolver album.
Later in his life, Leary formulated more complex theories on the nature of human consciousness and created his eight-circuit model. In the 80s and 90s he was fascinated by computers, the possibilities of virtual reality and the internet--seeing them all as open doors to the expansion of humankind. He also looked towards space exploration and hopeful colonization to extend the life of the human race and in honor of that, after his death, some of his ashes were launched into space for an orbiting burial with the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry, and a physicist and rocket scientist.