"with the simplicity of Columbus's egg"


Columbus's egg refers to the apocryphal story of Christopher Columbus's response to criticism. According to Girolamo Benzoni's History of the New World, Columbus was told that his discovery of America was nothing to be proud of, as it showed no special intellectual talent: anyone with his resources could have done the same thing. Columbus responded with a challenge, asking his accusers if they could stand an egg on its end. No one could. Columbus then took the egg, bashed one end slightly against the table to flatten it, and stood it on this end. His message was that just as in this trick, the voyage to America only appears easy after it has been achieved. The expression 'Columbus's egg' is now used to describe a solution that seems obvious after the fact.