Scopolamine is an alkaloid produced by several genera of the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family, such as henbane or jimson weed (Datura stramonium) and mandrake (Mandragora officinarum), and was first isolated in the 19th century from the plant Scopolia carniolica.
Scopolamine and Scopolia carniolica are words that will be heard often during our meeting. They relate to the name and work of Johannes Antonius Scopoli. We will hear some of the details from the translation and commentary on his correspondence with Karl Linne, written by a Slovenian physician and retired professor of anaesthesiology, Darinka Soban. We will visit the city of Idrija where Scopoli worked as a physician and universal naturalist from 1754 to 1769. The local mercury mine was at that time the second largest in the world, and Idrija the second largest city in Carniola, the most densely populated Slovenian province during the Habsburg Empire.
We will take a ride to Postojna Cave to experience the wondrous world of stalactites and the living space of the mysterious endemite of the Karst underworld, Proteus anguinus (olm, human fish). Scopoli formulated the first zoological description of this amphibian and addressed a letter not only to Linneaus, but also to the entire Assembly of the Royal Society of Sciences in Uppsala with a dedication and gift of the newly discovered amphibian species, offered for inclusion in the Systema Naturae.
A post-congress trip to Olimlje has been arranged in order to visit the third oldest pharmacy in Europe, decorated with a marvellous fresco of Leah, Rachel, Rueben and the mandrake.