How to make a Teslas egg out of Columbus

Columbus' egg

Have you ever heard of Columbus' egg? We reveal what this idiom is all about and how it came about.

Antje cursed. Again she had forgotten her grandmother's birthday. Her memory was really full of holes like a sieve! And no reminder had been able to help her so far: She left the calendar somewhere after two weeks at the latest, and little memos in her pocket always ended up in the washing machine.

"Antje, that's really easy", explained her friend Janna, "you save all birthdays in your mobile phone and it will notify you automatically - no matter where you are!" "Naturally!" Antje hit her forehead theatrically. "I would never have come up with such a simple solution on my own." "Just the egg of Columbus", Janna smiled.

When we find a surprisingly simple solution to a difficult problem, we speak of having found the "Egg of Columbus".

How the phrase "Egg of Columbus" came about

According to legend, Christopher Columbus is said to have been invited to a banquet after his first trip to America. People were feasting and drinking when suddenly one of the guests noticed that discovering America was actually nothing special.

Columbus, deeply offended in his seafaring honor, did not want to sit on him. He picked up an egg on the table and asked those present to turn it upside down so that it would stop. Shrugs on all sides. So Columbus took the egg and hit it with the point down on the table top. Result: The tip was pressed in, the egg remained upright - and Columbus could lean back contentedly.

A nice story - but probably only half the story. Because what a certain Mr. Girolamo Benzoni reports about Columbus in his book "The History of the New World" from 1565, he knew only from hearsay.

Other voices claim, however, that the proverb goes back to the Italian builder Filippo Brunelleschi: He is said to have received the contract to build the dome of the cathedral in Florence with the trick. But that is not all: In 1922 an article was published in the magazine "Der Islam" which saw the origin of the egg trick somewhere in the Orient.

So you see, to find out the origin of this proverb is at least as difficult as to find your own "Egg of Columbus".