Dreams remain a complex, mysterious phenomenon. Some people believe they are merely electrochemical processes. Others believe dreams allow the subconscious to reflect on waking activities and anxieties, or that they have prophetic or spiritual purposes. Many famous people throughout history claim to have gained inspiration, answers, and warnings from their dreams. What do you dream about from your sleep? Whatever your thoughts on the process, have a look at some of the most notable dreamers.
Science & Inventions
Otto Loewi’s Nobel Prize-winning Dream
German physiologist Otto Loewi dreamt an experimental design to confirm his hypothesis of chemical transmission of impulses between nerves. The first time he had this dream, he wrote notes down only to find them unreadable in the morning. The next day, luckily, the dream returned. This time he immediately awoke and experimented on a frog using the design, and over the next 10 years developed the theory for chemical transmission of nerve impulses. His work would earn him a Nobel Prize.
Elias Howe’s Needle Issue
After working on concepts to improve early sewing machines, Elias Howe remained perplexed as to the mechanics of the needle and thread. That is, until he had a dream in which Native Americans took him hostage. In this dream, they held spears with holes in the tips, which upon waking, inspired him to change the sewing machine needle thus making the machine operational.
More notable Invention dreams:
Rene Descartes developed the philosophy of the Scientific Method after interpreting one night’s succession of dreams to mean that he was destined to be the person who would reform and unify the sciences.
German chemist Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz made two important discoveries in dreams – the origins of Structural Theory and unique circular structure of the Benzene molecule.
Genius Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan claimed that a goddess would present him math equations in his dreams, providing him insight and discovery. Swiss-born U.S. geologist and zoologist Louis Agassiz dreamt about a fossil he was attempting to identify. In his dream, he saw the fish in living condition and was able to complete classification.
The inspiration for Google came to Larry Page in dream, in which he thought to download the whole web, which would later evolve into a ranked search engine concept. Now Google is perhaps one of the best inventions in modern history, you even probably landed on this page after googling for electric adjustable beds for dreamers, well that just a random guess.
Gen. George McClellan’s Vision
Union General McClellan told of dream in which George Washington appeared to him, after he has been studying campaign maps all day. In this dream , he foresaw all of the Confederate positions and that they would be advancing on the nation’s capital. He claimed that this knowledge allowed him to anticipate General Lee’s maneuvers and stop the invasion.
Abraham Lincoln’s Ignored Premonition
Abraham Lincoln’s friend and bodyguard Lamon recounted that the president experienced a foreboding dream two weeks before his death. In this dream, Lincoln dreamt he viewed his own funeral in the White House. In his dream, many people grieved and a guard told him that the president had been assassinated. While validity of this second-hand story has often been questioned, it is not unlikely that Lincoln might have had such a dream during the apex of the Civil War. Lincoln also experienced a recurring dream throughout the war that he believed told of the Union’s success.
More notable Political dreams:
While asleep in the trenches during World War I, a young Adolf Hitler dreamed he was about to be covered with earth and metal. Upon waking he immediately left the trench, and shortly after it was hit by shell killing those in it (thus sparing him, unfortunately for history).
In 1876, shortly before the Battle of Little Bighorn, Chief Sitting Bull dreamed of U.S. calvary clashing with the clouds and falling from the sky. He interpreted this to mean that an attack would come from the east, and that the Sioux would win leading him to prepare for battle.
Music, Movies & Literature
Mary Shelley’s Vision
One of best-known tales of dreams influencing literature is that of Mary Shelley. Shelley was visiting Lord Byron in Lake Geneva with her fiance and friends. Inspired by the atmosphere, Bryon challenged everyone to compose a spooky story. After several days spent thinking of an interesting ghost story, Shelley says one night, in a state between sleep and awake, she saw a doctor raise life from a dead man. Her dream would eventually develop into the classic novel, Frankenstein.
More notable Music & Literature dreams:
The tune for the Beatles song “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream in 1965. Writer Robert Louis Stevenson often cited his vivid dreams as inspiration, and conceived several scenes for his novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde during dreams. Horror author Stephen King credits his dreams as inspiration for many of his novels including Misery and It.
Director James Cameron took inspiration from dreams of flying for scenes in “Avatar”, and cites a “fever dream” for the creation of “Terminator.” Director Chris Nolan used his own lucid dreaming experiences to create the film now eponymous with dream states, Inception.
Author Stephanie Meyer states that the inspiration for the Twilight series came to her in dream, in which a human girl and a vampire discussed their relationship in a meadow.
Dreaming is one of the most interesting processes of the brain, the creation of alternate worlds and planes where our minds explore the mundane and the impossible. Undoubtedly dreams have impacted much of life throughout history, from science to books and much more that they will never know. Where will your dreams take you tonight?
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