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THE COLUMBUS EGG

The Columbus Egg is a story that is used to represent how a difficult problem can be solved with an extremely simple solution - hard to find but, once it is known, looks obvious.

The story traditionally has its origins in a tale about the 15th century navigator, Christopher Columbus, in which he is told by the Spanish courtiers that a problem was too difficult to solve.  In response he challenges the courtiers to stand an egg on end.  When all their attempts fail, Columbus takes the egg, lightly cracks the shell at one of the poles and stands it on end, telling them that it's easy "Yes, when I've shown the way".

Why, if Columbus should be there, the company would beg
He'd show that little trick of his of balancing the egg
- Oliver Wendell Holmes
   The Complete Poetical Works

A question of you,
let me beg
Of famed Columbus
and his egg
- John Wolcot
  The Works of Peter Pindar

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