The Egg of Columbus

Columbus breaking the egg
Columbus breaking the egg

The egg of Columbus it's a metaphor used to refer to problems which solutions are "apparently" very natural or obvious, but that someone had to think about it first and use it, to become so obvious or natural.

It has been told that in a certain occasion, after the discovery of America, Columbus was invited to a banquet. And there, someone obviously jealous of his achievement, claimed "Sir Christopher, even if your lordship had not discovered the Indies, there would have been, here in Spain which is a country abundant with great men knowledgeable in cosmography and literature, one who would have started a similar adventure with the same result". Columbus did not responded to the statement, but instead he placed a bet that everyone in the room would not be able to make an egg to stand on its own end, and he would be able to do it without any kind of help or aid. Of course everyone tried, but without success and after some time, when it was Columbus turn, he took the egg, tapped gently one of the ends of the egg on the table breaking a small part of the shell, and making it stand. With this, everyone claimed that way anyone could do it, in which Columbus responded "Yes, anyone could do it, but 'anyone' who could had thought of doing it first." Then he added "Once I showed the way to the New World, 'anyone' could do it. But 'someone' had the idea first, and had to put it to practice first".

If you want to try to make Columbus achievement without breaking the shell, try to do so by making a small pile of fine salt or sugar and put the egg on it just like Columbus did and then gently blow away the salt or sugar so that a few grains will remain trapped by the egg and will keep it balanced.

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