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Egg of Columbus

Egg of Columbus

An egg of Columbus or Columbus’ egg ( Italian : uovo di Colombo [wɔːvo di kolombo] ) refers to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact. The term Refers to an apocryphal story in qui Christopher Columbus , HAVING beens Told That discovering the Americas Was inevitable and no great accomplishment, challenges His critics to make an egg stand on tip icts. After his challengers give up, Columbus does it himself by tapping the egg on the table to flatten his tip.

The story is often alluded to when discussing creativity . [1] The term has been used as the trade name of puzzles .

Source of the story

Columbi ägg (1924) by the Swedish artist Nils von Dardel .

The Columbus story may have originated with Italian historian and traveler Girolamo Benzoni . In his book History of the New World , published in 1565, [2] he wrote:

Columbus being a party with many noble Spaniards, where, as was customary, the subject of conversation was the Indies: one of them undertook to say: – “Mr Christopher, even if you had not found the Indies, we should not have was devoid of a man who would have tried the same thing that you did, here in our own country of Spain, as it is full of great men in cosmography and literature. ” Columbus said in his words, but with a desire to be brought to the fore, he said: “Gentlemen, I will be able to make this egg stand up as I will, naked and without anything at all. ” They all tried, and no one succeeded in making it stand up. When the egg came round to the hands of Columbus, having thus crushed a little of one end; wherefore all remained confused, understanding what he would have said, that everyone knows how to do it; that they have been sought for, but they have been sought for, and have been laughing, and wondering at it as an impossibility.
[Trovandosi adunque Colombo in a convito con molti nobili Spagnuoli, dove si ragionaua (as if costuma,) dell’Indie; uno di loro hehbe to say. Signor Christofano ancora che voi no ha jacket trovato l’Indie, no sarebbe mancato ch’il simile hauesse tentanto, come voi, qua nella nostra Spagna; as that of grand’huomini giudiciosi ripiena, cosmografi, & letterati. Colombo is not afraid of this word cosa alcuna, my fattosi portare un’ovo, the pose in tavola, dicendo; io voglio, Signori, if you want to pay attention to a scorna chen not farete stare quest’ovo in piedi come farò io, my nudo senza cosa alcuna. Pruovaronsi tutti, and at nessuno successe he farlo stare in piedi; as alle mani del Colombo egli venne, dandogli una battuta su la tavola lo fermo, strictiando cosi a poco della punta; wave tutti restarono smarriti, intendendo che voleva dire; In this case, you have to go to the Indies, and not to the Riders of the Cercava Innanzi, as a pezzo of serenity, and maravigliati, as cosa impossibile to essere.]

The factual accuracy of this story is called into question by its similarity to another published fifteen years earlier (while Benzoni was still traveling in the Americas) by painter and architect Giorgio Vasari . [3] [4] According to Vasari, the young Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi had designed an unusually large and heavy dome for Santa Maria del Fiore , the cathedral (Duomo) in Florence , Italy. City officials had asked to see his model, but he refused, proposing instead:

That whosoever could make an egg stand upright on a flat piece of marble should build the cupola, since so each one’s intellect would be discerned. Taking an egg, therefore, all those Masters sought to make it stand upright, but not one could find a way. Whereupon Filippo, being told to make it stand, took it graciously, and, giving one end of it a blow on the flat piece of marble, made it stand upright. The craftsmen protested that they could have done the same; Filippo goal answered, laughing, that they could also have raised the cupola, if they had seen the model or the design. And so it was resolved that he should be commissioned to carry out this work.
[In a piano marmo, a choreographed uovo ritto, quell the cupola, che quivi si vedrebbe lo ingegno loro. Fu tolto uno uovo, e da tutti que ‘maestri provato a faro star ritto, nessuno sapeva il modo. Fu da loro detto a Filippo ch’e ‘lo fermasse, and egli con grazia lo prese e datoli a colpo del culo in sul piano del marmo, lo fece star ritto. Romoreggiando gl’artefici che similmente arebbono fatto essi, rispos loro Filippo ridendo che egli averebbono ancora saputo voltare la cupola, vedendo il modello o il disegno. E cosí fu risoluto che egli avessi carico di questa opera, e ne informasse meglio i Consoli e gli operai. ]

The flattened at the top. [5]

Cultural references

Monument to the discovery of America by Columbus in the shape of an egg in Sant Antoni de Portmany , Ibiza , Spain

Mary Shelley mentions Columbus’s egg in her Introduction to the Third Edition of Frankenstein (1869, p.10), writing “In all matters of discovery and invention, even of those that appertain to the imagination, we are continually reminded of the story of Columbus and invention in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities of a subject, and in the power of molding and fashioning ideas suggested to it. ”

Adolf Hitler used the metaphor in Mein Kampf , saying that “Columbus’s examples of Columbus are rare.” [6]

Leo Tolstoy mentions Columbus’ egg in War and Peace after Helene explains to her spiritual guide her reasoning as to why she is not bound by her previous vows of marriage to Pierre after switching religions. “The spiritual guide was astonished at this solution, which had all the simplicity of Columbus’ egg.”

See also

  • Hindsight bias , the inclination to be aware of the situation
  • Egg of Li Chun , a Chinese egg-balancing tradition
  • Tesla’s Egg of Columbus , a metal egg that stands on a rotating magnetic field
  • Columbus Breaking the Egg , an engraving by William Hogarth
  • Egg of Columbus (tangram puzzle)
  • Egg of Columbus (mechanical puzzle)
  • Superegg , an egg-like toy designed by Piet Hein that stands on its ends
  • Gomboc
  • Gordian Knot
  • Väinämöinen in Kalevala was asked to become a successor, in which he succeeded


  1. Jump up^ Kant, Immanuel(2013 [1790]), Critique of Judgment , Book II, “Analytic of the Sublime,” Simon and Schuster: “In my part of the country, if you set a common man a problem like that of Columbus and his egg, he says, ‘There is no art fait que, it is only science’: ie youcando it if you knowhow, and he says just the Saami of all the would-be arts of jugglers. “
  2. Jump up^ Girolamo Benzoni (1572 [1565]), Historia del Mondo Nuovo , Venice, pp. 12-3; English translation:History of the New World by Benzoni Girolamo,Hakluyt Society, London, 1857, p. 17.
  3. Jump up^ Giorgio Vasari (1550), Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects : “Filippo Brunelleschi.” Florence.
  4. Jump up^ The similarity of Vasari’s story to the egg of Columbus story was first pointed out in Our Paper , vo. 10,Massachusetts Reformatory, 1894, p. 285.
  5. Jump up^ Martin Gardner (May-June 1996). “The great egg-balancing mystery” . Skeptical Inquirer . 20 (3). dead link ]
  6. Jump up^ chaper XI “Race and People” of the 1939 Murphy translation, Husrt & Blackett, London, online athttp://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200601.txt


  • Baldwin, James. Columbus and the egg , 1903.