Dmitri Mendeleev saw his table in a dream, and his example is not unique. Many scholars have recognized that their discoveries owe to their amazing dreams. Not only the periodic table came from the dream but the atomic bomb and others. “There are no mysterious phenomena that can not be understood” – claimed René Descartes (1596-1650), the great French scientist, philosopher, mathematician, physicist, and physiologist
Dmitri Mendeleev saw his table in a dream, and his example is not unique. Many scholars have recognized that their discoveries owe to their amazing dreams. Not only the periodic table came from the dream but the atomic bomb and others.
“There are no mysterious phenomena that can not be understood” – claimed René Descartes (1596-1650), the great French scientist, philosopher, mathematician, physicist, and physiologist. However, at least one inexplicable phenomenon was well known to him by his own life example. Author of many discoveries in different areas, Descartes did not deny that the impetus for his research was the diverse number of prophetic dreams that he had seen at the age of twenty-three.
Date of one of these dreams is certain: November 10, 1619. It was that night, Rene Descartes discovered the fundamental direction of his future work. In that dream, he picked up a book, written in Latin, on the first page of which was placed an innermost question: “Which way do I go?”. In response, according to Descartes: “I discovered the foundations of a marvelous science.”This became a pivotal point in young Descartes’s life and the foundation on which he developed analytic geometry. He dedicated the rest of his life to researching this connection between mathematics and nature.
Surprisingly, the dreams of famous people that propelled them to perform discovery, not a rarity. An example is the dream of Niels Bohr, won him the Nobel Prize.
Niels Bohr visiting atoms
Great Danish scientist, the founder of atomic physics, Niels Bohr (1885-1962) while being a student managed to make a discovery that changed the scientific worldview.
Once he dreamt that he was in the Sun – shining bunch fire-breathing gas – and all the planets whistling rush past him. They revolved around the Sun and were connected with him by the thin filaments.
Suddenly the gas became dry, and the “Sun” and “planets” have decreased and Bohr, by his own admission, woke up, he realized that he had discovered a model of the atom, which he was looking for. “The Sun” in his dream was nothing more than a fixed nucleus around which the “planets-electrons” revolves!
Needless to say, that the planetary model of the atom, seen by Niels Bohr in his sleep, was the basis of all subsequent work of the scientist. It ushered in the atomic physics, Niels Bohr brought the Nobel Prize and international acclaim. As a scientist, he felt his duty to fight against the use of the atom for military purposes: genie, released on the freedom of his dream, was not only powerful but also dangerous…
However, this story – just one in a long line of many. Thus, the story of no less amazing night illumination, moving forward the world of science belongs to another Nobel Prize winner, the Austrian physiologist Otto Loewi (1873-1961).
Chemistry and Life Otto Loewi
Nerve impulses are transmitted in the body by electric waves – doctors mistakenly believed until the discovery was made by Levi. As a young scientist, firstly he did not agree with venerable colleagues, safely assume that the transmission of nerve impulses involved in chemistry. But who will listen to yesterday’s student disproving scientific luminaries?
Only seventeen years later, Levi was finally able to make an experiment clearly proved him right. The idea of the experiment came to him unexpectedly – in a dream. With the thoroughness of the true scientist Levy detailed the illumination visiting it for two nights in a row:
“… On the night before Easter Sunday, 1920, I woke up and took a few notes on a piece of paper. Then I fell asleep again. In the morning, I had a feeling that this night I wrote something very important, but I could not decipher my scribbles. The next night, at three o’clock, the idea came back to me again. This was the idea behind the experiment, which would help determine the legal capacity of my hypothesis of chemical transmission … I immediately got up and went to the lab and put a frog heart experiment, which I had a dream … His findings were the basis of the theory of chemical transmission of nerve impulses. “
Significantly contributed by dreams, studies have brought Otto Loewi the Nobel Prize in 1936 for his services to medicine and psychology.
Another famous chemist, Friedrich August Kekule publicly acknowledged that it was through his dream to open the molecular structure of benzene, on which before he fought unsuccessfully for many years.
Kekule snake ring
By Kekule admission, for many years he tried to find the molecular structure of benzene, but all his knowledge and experience have failed. The problem so tormented the scientist that sometimes he could not stop thinking about it, night or day. Often, he dreamed that he had made a discovery, but these dreams invariably a reflection of his usual daily thoughts and worries.
It was not until a cold night in 1865, when Kekulé fell asleep at home by the fire and saw a strange dream, which later he told this: “In front of my eyes were jumping atoms that are merged into larger structures, like snakes. Fascinated, I watched them dance when one of the “serpent” grabbed its tail and teasingly danced. Like I was stroke by the lightning, I awoke – the structure of benzene is a closed ring”.
This discovery was a coup for the chemistry of the time.
Kekule’s dream was so impressive that he told it to his fellow chemists at a scientific convention and even encouraged them to be more attentive to their dreams. Certainly, these words Kekule subscribed to a few scholars, and above all, his colleague, the Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev, whose discovery made in the dream, is well known to all.
Indeed, everyone has heard that his periodic table of chemical elements Dmitri Mendeleev “spied” in his sleep. But how did it happen? About it in his memoirs, described in detail by one of his friends.
Abraham Lincoln Dreamt of His Assassination
President Abraham Lincoln recounted the following dream to his wife just a few days prior to his assassination:
“About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary.
I soon began to dream.
There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. It was light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break?
I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. In front of me, there was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it was stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, some gazing mournfully upon the corpse whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully.
‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers “The President” was his answer; “he was killed by an assassin!” Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me from my dream.”
Lincoln ascribed powerful meanings to his dreams. One of his recurring dreams, in particular, he considered foretelling and a sign of major events soon to occur. He had this dream the night before his assassination. On the morning of that lamentable day, President Lincoln was discussing matters of the war with General Grant during a cabinet meeting and believed that big news from General Sherman on the front would soon arrive. When Grant asked why he thought so, Lincoln responded:
“I had a dream last night, and ever since this war began I have had the same dream just before every event of great national importance. It portends some important event that will happen very soon.”
His friend and law partner, Ward Hill Lamon, noted that Byron’s “The Dream” was one of Lincoln’s favorite poems and he often heard him repeat the following lines:
Sleep hath its own world,
A boundary between the things misnamed
Death and existence: Sleep hath its own world,
And a wide realm of wild reality,
And dreams in their development have breath,
And tears, and tortures, and the touch of joy;
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts,
They take a weight from off waking toils,
They do divide our being;
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Inspired By a Dream
In the summer of 1816, nineteen-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover, the poet Percy Shelley (whom she married later that year), visited the poet Lord Byron at his villa beside Lake Geneva in Switzerland. Stormy weather frequently forced them indoors, where they and Byron’s other guests sometimes read from a volume of ghost stories. One evening, Byron challenged his guests to each write one themselves.
Mary’s story, inspired by a dream, became Frankenstein.
“When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think… I saw — with shut eyes, but an acute mental vision — I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavor to mock the stupendous Creator of the world.
…I opened mine in terror. The idea so possessed my mind, that a thrill of fear ran through me, and I wished to exchange the ghastly image of my fancy for the realities around. …I could not so easily get rid of my hideous phantom; still, it haunted me. I must try to think of something else. I recurred to my ghost story — my tiresome, unlucky ghost story! O! if I could only contrive one which would frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that night!
Swift as light and as cheering was the idea that broke upon me. ‘I have found it! What terrified me will terrify others, and I need only describe the specter which had haunted me my midnight pillow.’ On the morrow, I announced that I had thought of a story. I began that day with the words, ‘It was on a dreary night of November’, making only a transcript of the grim terrors of my waking dream.”
Paul McCartney Finds “Yesterday” In a Dream
Paul McCartney is one of the most famous singer/songwriters of all time. According to the Guinness Book of Records, his Beatles song “Yesterday” (1965) has the most cover versions of any song ever written and, according to record label BMI was performed over seven million times in the 20th century.
The tune for “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream…
The Beatles were in London in 1965 filming Help! and McCartney was staying in a small attic room of his family’s house on Wimpole Street. One morning, in a dream he heard a classical string ensemble playing, and, as McCartney tells it:
“I woke up with a lovely tune in my head. I thought, ‘That’s great, I wonder what that is?’ There was an upright piano next to me, to the right of the bed by the window. I got out of bed, sat at the piano, found G, found F sharp minor 7th — and that leads you through then to B to E minor, and finally, back to E. It all leads forward logically. I liked the melody a lot, but because I’d dreamed it, I couldn’t believe I’d written it. I thought, ‘No, I’ve never written anything like this before.’ But I had the tune, which was the most magical thing!”
The truth about Dmitri Mendeleev
It turns out, sleep Mendeleev became widely known with a help of A.A. Inostrantseva – a friend of the scientist who once went to his office and found him in a gloomy mood. As later recalled Foreigners Mendeleev complained to him that “all in the head hard, but I can not express the table.” And later he explained that he had worked for three days and nights without sleep, but all attempts to combine ideas to the table failed.
In the end, the scientist, very tired, still lay in bed and the dream that makes the history came. According to Mendeleev, it happened like this: “I dream of a table, where the elements are arranged as needed. I woke up once wrote on a piece of paper – only in one place an amendment was necessary.”
But the most intriguing is that at the time when the Mendeleev periodic system dreamed of, the atomic weight of many elements have been installed incorrectly, and many items were not investigated at all. In other words, starting only from the known to the scientific evidence, Mendeleev simply could not make his great discovery! This means that in a dream he had not just inspiration. Discovery of the periodic system, for which scientists of the time simply did not know enough, you can easily compare with predicting the future.
All these discoveries made by scientists during sleep, forced to wonder whether the great men dream of dreams revelations more than a mere mortal, or whether they just have the opportunity to implement them. Maybe great minds just do not think much about what others say about them, so do not hesitate to seriously listen to the tips of your dreams? To answer this, Friedrich Kekule concluded his speech at a scientific convention, “Let’s explore their dreams, gentlemen, and then we may come to the truth!”.