dreams invention discovery

Dreams Leading to

Discoveries and Inventions



sew needle substantial
cloth figure out approach (2)
tribe native conscious
spear theory commit (2)
series invention contribution
tip (3) captive come about
prove theorem inspiration
design conscious stick/stuck
fossil identify come across
extract specimen correspond
clue perceive subliminal
slab fractions register (2)
insight overlook unconscious
induce infinite feature (3)


Dreams as Solutions

Throughout history, artists, inventors, writers and scientists have solved problems through their dreams. Here are some discoveries and inventions attributed to dreams.

1. The Sewing Machine

Elias Howe invented the sewing machine in 1845. He had the idea of a machine with a needle which would go through a piece of cloth, but he couldn’t figure out exactly how it would function.

He tried different approaches; none worked.

Tribal Natives

Then one night he dreamed he was held captive by a group of tribal natives. They were dancing around him with spears. As they moved around him, he noticed that their spears had holes near their tips.

When he woke up, he realized that this was the solution to his problem. He changed his design to have a hole at the tip of the needle, and the machine sewed perfectly.

2. Mathematical Genius and Dreamer

Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) was one of India’s greatest mathematical geniuses. He made substantial contributions to analytical theory of numbers and worked on elliptical functions, continued fractions, and infinite series.

In 1914, he went to Cambridge University, and worked there for five years producing math results and proved over 3,000 theorems.

Inspirations and Insights

According to Ramanujan, inspiration and insight for mathematics frequently came about in the form of dreams.

Ramanujan describes one of his dreams of mathematical discovery:

“While asleep, I dreamt of a red screen. Suddenly a hand began to write on the screen. It was that of a Hindu goddess, Namakkal. She wrote a number of results in elliptic integrals.

They stuck to my mind. As soon as I woke up, I committed them to writing.”

3. Fossil Solution Perceived In Dream

Louis Agassiz (1807-1883) was a Swiss-born naturalist, zoologist, geologist, and teacher who emigrated to the US in 1846.

While working on a collection of fossil fish, he came across a specimen which he had been unable to identify.

At that time, Agassiz reported having the same dream three nights in a row. In the first two nights, he had seen the fish in its perfect, original form. But he had not recorded his image.

The Drawing

On the third night, he was ready with pen and paper. When the fish appeared again in his dream, he drew it in the dark, still half-asleep.

The next day Agassiz looked at his drawing. This fish had features significantly different from the ones he had been working on. But upon extracting the fossil, he realized it corresponded exactly to the one in his dream.

Conscious Versus Subconscious Perception

Perhaps Agassiz had perceived a clue in the stone slab — subliminally — but which he had not registered it while awake.

His dream may have been a message from his unconscious about this clue that he had consciously overlooked while he was awake.

YOUR Dreams

These dreams that had led to discoveries and inventions are just a small sample of those that have been recorded. There are hundreds of examples of famous creativity, ideas and discoveries that have been induced or materialized from dreams.

Untold numbers of great writers, poets, musicians, scientists, philosophers and entrepreneurs have had such revealing dreams throughout history.

What discoveries can YOUR dreams provide?

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1. Dreams are only dreams: delightful fantasies or horrifying nightmares. True or false?

2. Did Elias Howe use math and engineering to design the main mechanism of the sewing machine?

3. Srinivasa Ramanujan’s mathematical breakthroughs were revealed to him entirely from his university professor. Is this correct or wrong?

4. Did Louis Agassiz immediately understand the solution of to the fossil riddle and remember it the following day?

5. Some mysterious entity, a “god” had actually revealed the answer to Agassiz. What do some scholars think?

6. Throughout history, it has not been uncommon (it has not been unusual) for great discoveries and insights to be derived from dreams. Yes or no?

7. What is the lesson or moral of the text?

A. Do you have dreams every time you are asleep?

B. Are they pleasant dreams, nightmares or both?

C. Could your dreams help solve your problems, answer your questions or otherwise help you in work and life?


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