Kekulé, who discovered the chemical formula for benzene in 1865, claimed that he had guessed the ring formula with the alternating single and double bonds in a day-dream. Are there similar examples of significant scientific progress claimed to be caused by dreaming?
Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan claimed and is often said to have come up with theorems and questions in his dreams.
While on his death bed, the brilliant Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan cryptically wrote down functions he said came to him in dreams, with a hunch about how they behaved. Now 100 years later, researchers say they've proved he was right.
"We've solved the problems from his last mysterious letters. For people who work in this area of math, the problem has been open for 90 years," Emory University mathematician Ken Ono said.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to verify such claims. But regardless I have always found Srinivasa Ramanujan's achievements amazing.
FamousScientists.org has a thread titled, "7 Great Examples of Scientific Discoveries Made in Dreams."
The examples include those already discussed as well as:
- Mendeleev and the Periodic Table
- AR Wallace and natural selection
- Descartes' scientific method
- Loewi and synaptic nerve transmissions
Another article adds Watson's vision of the double helix structure of DNA
I read just yesterday that the inventor or the sewing machine had worked on the problem of the needle for a long time. Then in a nightmare, screaming, sweating and all that that he got the answer. The savages that were stabbing him in the dream had the most unusual spears. One's that had a hole here and a hook there and...
The article, from one of the Pragmatic series, was about how the right half of the brain, the non verbal side, waits until pictures can be formed with the answer. Coaxing these out is where dreams and daydreams seem to do the job, if you let them.
It seems to be true. I dreamed of one myself. How to linearize hot wire measurements of shear stress (and only shear stress) in a turbulent flow? It is actually by squaring hot-wire signals.
It is in "Impossibility of Linearizing a hot-wire anemometer for measurements in turbulent flows"by S.P. Parthasarthy and D.J. Tritton, AIAA Journal, 1963, 1-5, p1210-1211.Indian Institute of science, Bangalore.