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longtresses's avatar

Einstein's Relativity came to him during sleep/dream - fact?

Asked by longtresses (1332points) September 18th, 2010

Is it true that the inspiration for the Theory of Relativity came to Einstein during his sleep? Where might I find more details about this?

*I’m not talking about the fiction “Einstein’s Dreams”..

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13 Answers

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Austinlad's avatar

I don’t know whether he did or didn’t, but I’m betting that for a man of such intellect, at least some of the inspiration for the theory and some of its building blocks bubbled up at times such as in sleep when he wasn’t consciously thinking about it.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

The story I heard was that it came to him when he was standing next to a moving tram. He realized that to him the tram appeared to be moving, but to the people on the tram, the outside appeared to move.

Vortico's avatar

I believe he slowly developed the idea when working on formulas at his desk. This came from the idea of skewing Euclidean space. There’s not much fun to that, but it’s probably the most plausible.

Ben_Dover's avatar

Yes, he was catching forty winks at his patent office job.

Rarebear's avatar

No, it came to him through hard work, a lot of math, and a lot of thought.

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Vortico's avatar

@Rarebear, yup. People tend to think of Einstein as a superhero who can solve any given problem. He was simply a theoretical physicist with a fast learning rate and a lot of dedication. He was media-ized in the early 20th century, which led to his superhero status and depictions of him like this.

DocteurAville's avatar

What I heard (or understand) he took a train and as it moved in a certain speed, he realized that the motion of the train he was in, made his perception of the surrounds ‘relative’ to the speed of train, as things outside of the train were moving in a slower speed than himself (inside the train).

If he was outside of the train, his perception would have been ‘relative’ to the speed of the train.

mattbrowne's avatar

There are a lot of myths floating around. The truth is that he just kept thinking about things. Thinking and thinking and thinking.

Vortico's avatar

A new SMBC comic just came up. It’s the truth!

hiphiphopflipflapflop's avatar

“How could we be anything but charmed by the delightful story Einstein tells in his Autobiographical Notes of a striking thought he had at the age of 16? While recounting the efforts that led to the special theory of relativity, he recalled”

”...a paradox upon which I had already hit at the age of sixteen: If I pursue a beam of light with the velocity c (velocity of light in a vacuum), I should observe such a beam of light as an electromagnetic field at rest though spatially oscillating. There seems to be no such thing, however, neither on the basis of experience nor according to Maxwell’s equations. From the very beginning it appeared to me intuitively clear that, judged from the standpoint of such an observer, everything would have to happen according to the same laws as for an observer who, relative to the earth, was at rest. For how should the first observer know or be able to determine, that he is in a state of fast uniform motion? One sees in this paradox the germ of the special relativity theory is already contained.”

kaas's avatar

I definitely think his theory might’ve came to him in a dream. I have many dreams in which I am in a state between conciousness and inconciousness where in I work out mathematical/physic problems. When I wake up slowly, I realise many times that I’ve just found out the answer to something I was wondering about for many days.

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