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Sledding Near C

Dreamed around 1890-95 by Albert Einstein

I was sledding with my friends at night. I started to slide down the hill but my sled started going faster and faster. I was going so fast that I realized I was approaching the speed of light. I looked up at that point and I saw the stars. They were being refracted into colors I had never seen before. I was filled with a sense of awe. I understood in some way that I was looking at the most important meaning in my life.


Looking back near the end of his life, Einstein said, "I knew I had to understand that dream and you could say, and I would say, that my entire scientific career has been a meditation on my dream."


This may not be poetic exaggeration. John Briggs has argued (at book length, in Fire in the Crucible) that genius requires more than high intelligence: it's a matter of seeing the world deeply unlike the societal norm; and such differences both get shaped early and manifest early. One of his examples is Einstein.

However, this dream is doubtful. It's all over the Web, but I can't find any printed source; neither Einstein's Autobiographical Sketches, the ten volumes of his Collected Papers (unless I overlooked it), nor any of the dozens of biographies in my local library. If anyone does know where this story came from, please email me!

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: Albert at the end of time, in Balolokong - a trip to Thought-Experiment High, in The Observer Effect - physics dreams - life-paths - career advice in dreams - play - we all scream for ice dreams! - math & logic in dreams - time dreams - light - transcendent dreams - cosmic dreams

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