Famous Dreams

Otto Loewi

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Otto Loewi (1873-1961), a German born physiologist, won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1936 for his work on the chemical transmission of nerve impulses.

In 1903, Dr. Otto Loewi (1873-1961), a German physiologist argued against common held scientific belief, that nervous impulses were the result of electrical transmissions. Loewi hypothesized that chemical transmissions were more likely the mode but had no idea how to prove it. He eventually put the idea on the back burner until seventeen years later after he had the following dream...

"The night before Easter Sunday of that year I awoke, turned on the light, and jotted down a few notes on a tiny slip of paper. Then I fell asleep again. It occurred to me at 6 o'clock in the morning that during the night I had written down something most important, but I was unable to decipher the scrawl. The next night, at 3 o'clock, the idea returned. It was the design of an experiment to determine whether or not the hypothesis of chemical transmission that I had uttered 17 years ago was correct. I got up immediately, went to the laboratory, and performed a single experiment on a frog's heart according to the nocturnal design."

Even though Dr Loewi had established highly significant probability that his hypothesis was correct, it took the scientific community a further 10 years to accept his outcomes. His dream and subsequent diligence gave rise to the theory of chemical transmission of the nervous impulse and he was awarded a Nobel Prize.

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