Mind & Brain See Inside Answers in Your Dreams When you fall asleep, you enter an alternative state of consciousness--a time when true inspiration can strike By Deirdre Barrett Photoillustration by Aaron Goodman As a young mathematician in the 1950s, Don Newman taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology alongside rising star and Nobel-laureate-to-be John Nash. Newman had been struggling to solve a particular math problem: “I was ... trying to get somewhere with it, and I couldn’t and I couldn’t and I couldn’t,” he recalled. One night Newman dreamed that he was reflecting on the problem when Nash appeared. The sleeping Newman related the details of the conundrum to Nash and asked if he knew the solution. Nash explained how to solve it. Newman awoke realizing he had the answer! He spent the next several weeks turning the insight into a formal paper, which was then published in a mathematics journal. This is only a preview. Get the rest of this article now! Select an option below: Buy Digital Issue Customer Sign In *You must have purchased this issue or have a qualifying subscription to access this content It has been identified that the institution you are trying to access this article from has institutional site license access to Scientific American on nature.com. Click here to access this article in its entirety through site license access. ADVERTISEMENT Scientific American is a trademark of Scientific American, Inc., used with permission © 2015 Scientific American, a Division of Nature America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.