Featured art by Vladimir Kush
To make a scientific discovery, many years of hard work are necessary, but sometimes a eureka moment occurs, and answers are found in the places we least expect, like dreams and hallucinations.
Below are five quite surprising examples of inventions discovered in the astral plane.
#1. The Period Table of Elements by Dmitri Mendeleev
With his eccentric long hair and a passion for science, Dmitri Mendeleev (1834 – 1907) became well known as a great professor of chemistry. It’s said that he cut his beard once a year, and was more occupied with his studies than his style.
One of the problems he was pre-occupied with, was how to organize the elements in a logical way.
At first he wrote out the name of each element on a card, and he then wrote down the properties of each element, spending hours arranging the cards into different patterns. Eventually he became stumped and went to bed, where he had a fantastic vision:
“In a dream I saw a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper.”
After he awoke and discovered that his subconscious had done the work for him, and Mendeleev went on to become the inventor of the Periodic Table and the father of modern chemistry.
#2. August Kekulé’s Dreams of Atoms
August Kekulé (1829 – 1896) was another famous European chemist who became known for his work on chemical structure in the 1850’s, spending much of his time worrying about arrangement of atoms in the molecule Benzene.
This was a difficult problem, because the ratio of carbon and hydrogen atoms was unlike that seen in other compounds. On a cold night in 1865, he had been working on the problem in his room. Unable to find a solution, he turned his chair to the fire and went to sleep.
He began dreaming of atoms dancing, and gradually the atoms arranged themselves into the shape of a snake. Then the snake turned around and ate its tail. The image of the snake, tail in its mouth, continued to spin around and around.
Suddenly, Kekulé awoke and realized what the dream meant to him: Benzene molecules were made up of rings of carbon atoms.
He later described his experience like this:
“My vision came to me only after years of studying the nature of carbon-carbon bonds….”
#3. Number Theory, Infinite Series and Elliptic Integrals, Srinivasa Ramanujan
He was a mathematician during the British Raj, and considered one of the greatest scientific minds in the history of India. Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887 – 1920) had almost no formal training in school, yet he made major contributions to number theory, infinite series, and elliptic integrals. After studying in a rural community with borrowed text books, Ramanujan was soon recognized by other Indian mathematicians. The wider mathematical community in Europe became interested in the young scholar and he began to work with the English mathematician G. H. Hardy. The Cambridge professor realized that Ramanujan had discovered new theorems in addition to “rediscovering” other ones.
Deeply religious, he credited his substantial capabilities to divinity.
“An equation for me has no meaning, unless it expresses a thought of God.”
One of his most dramatic experiences came in the form of a dream he later described:
“While asleep, I had an unusual experience. There was a red screen formed by flowing blood, as it were. I was observing it. Suddenly a hand began to write on the screen. I became all attention. That hand wrote a number of elliptic integrals. They stuck to my mind. As soon as I woke up, I committed them to writing.”
He died at the age of 32 from tuberculosis in Kumbakonam.
#4. George Boole and The Birth of Binary Code
One day in 1847, the English mathematician George Boole was walking across a field near Doncaster when he had, in his own words, a “mystical experience”. Boole said in that very moment he felt some otherworldly force had “…called on [him] to express the workings of the human mind in symbolic or mathematical form.”
Boole’s theory was based off a series of yes or no decisions that could be written out using symbols. His ideas were quickly forgotten except for a few theoretical mathematicians.
When computers were invented, scientists realized that Boolean Logic could be used to make computers “think”. The symbols for yes and no became binary code, the 1’s and 0’s which make up the Internet.
#5. Albert Einstein and The Theory of Relativity
There are many different stories told about Albert Einstein’s discovery of the Theory of Relativity. A couple fascinating accounts stand out as being unique, both are about dreams that Einstein had before he studied physics at a young age.
Einstein’s first dream occurred to him as a vision in his youth of sledding on an icy hill. As he began to pick up speed, sliding faster and faster, he noticed the stars in the sky changed their appearance. When he looked up into the sky, the dream abruptly ended.
Years later as an adolescent, he had another strange dream about being on a farm. There were cows lined up along an electric fence, and when the farmer turned on the electricity, the cows all jumped over the fence at the same time. Astounded by this synchronized movement, he asked the farmer if he saw the same thing. The farmer said he saw each cow jump the fence one at a time.
Meditating upon those dreams, Einstein eventually worked out his Principle of Relativity. Discovering that laws of physics were relative to the observer of the event, he used mathematics to prove his visions were accurate. It took him over eight years to accomplish this.
After decades of working to figure out the General Theory of Relativity, the extraordinary solutions had come to Einstein in the form of a dream, “like a giant die making an indelible impress, a huge map of the universe outlined itself in one clear vision”.