Most dreams have little worth, such as standing in the supermarket in your pajamas or failing an exam that you already passed a decade ago. Once in a blue moon, however, someone will have a dream that inspires them to create something new and fresh. Even rarer, some of those ideas will actually catch on and become worldwide phenomena.
1. The First Periodic Table
Dmitri Mendeleev (born 1834) was a renowned chemist. He took on the challenge of trying to figure out a logical, scientifically accepted way of presenting all the discovered elements. Although he believed that there was a solid answer to this problem, he couldn’t quite make it all fit.
That night, he had a dream where his thoughts all came together. Quoting from his diary, Dmitri wrote: “I saw in a dream a table where all the elements fell into place as required. Awakening, I immediately wrote it down on a piece of paper.”
He drew up a table sorting the elements by atomic weight and had it published in 1869. This formed the basis for themodern periodic table, which now sorts the elements by the number of protons in an atom of each element.
While in college in 1996, Larry Page had a constant feeling that the only reason he had been admitted in the first place was due to a clerical error. The idea that he could be kicked out of college at any moment caused him anxiety, and this feeling gave him a peculiar dream.
He dreamed of downloading and storing the Internet on individual PCs. When he woke up, he did some math to see if it was possible. Given bandwidth and storage issues, you couldn’t save entire web pages to a computer. However, it was possible that the web pages could be stored as individual links.
This gave Page the idea of collating links to web pages around the world and searching through them. Eventually, thisdeveloped into the Google we know today.
3. The Theory Of Relativity.
One of Albert Einstein’s more famous discoveries was inspired by a strange dream.
He dreamed that he was watching cows eat through an electrified fence, but the cows were seemingly unfazed by it. Einstein touched the fence and discovered why they weren’t bothered. The fence had run out of charge.
A farmer approached the fence and replaced the battery, at which point all the cows jumped away at the same time. Einstein spoke to the farmer about the humorous sight of cows jumping at the same time. Confused, the farmer claimed that he had seen each cow jumping one after the other as the charge went down the fence.
When Einstein awoke, the dream gave him the idea that one observer may see something happen instantaneously while others see the same event happen in sequence. This formed the basis of thetheory of relativity.
4. Christopher Nolan’sInception.
It’s no big shocker that Inception, Christopher Nolan’s famous film about dreams, was inspired by them. He attributes a lot of what happens inInception to his own experiences with dreams.
However, Inception didn’t stem from a single dream. Instead, Nolan’s main influence for the film stemmed from several individual cases when he experienced lucid dreaming, the sensation of controlling a dream and trying to change it in an advantageous way.
Of course, lucid dreaming involves realizing that you’re in a dream in the first place, so it’s important to be able todistinguish dream worlds from reality. Nolan’s own experience with distinguishing between worlds allowed him to write his experience into the movie as a central theme.
5 .The Beatles’ ‘Yesterday’
The tune for “Yesterday,” one of the more famous Beatles songs, came to Paul McCartney via a dream. He didn’t know it at first. He woke up with the tune stuck in his head and believed that he had heard the song before. Despite how much he tried, however, he couldn’t place who sang it.
To work out the mystery, McCartney played the tune on a piano and wrote down the notes for the song, passing it around to friends and asking who originally sang it. For a while, he didn’t believe it was something of his own subconscious invention. He claimed, “But I couldn’t have written it because I dreamt it.”
When it became apparent that it wasn’t another person’s song, the Beatles fleshed it out. The original title was “Scrambled Eggs,” with the second line being, “Oh, my baby, how I love your legs.” But this eventually developed into “Yesterday.”
S.E. Batt is a freelance writer and author. He enjoys a good keyboard, cats, and tea, even though the three of them never blend well together. You can follow his antics over at @Simon_Batt or his fiction.
S. E Batt.