Egg of Columbus

From Academic Kids

The Egg of Columbus is a story about Christopher Columbus that takes place at a dinner which a Spanish gentleman had given in his honor. The story is used to illustrate his skill at practical judgment and evaluation. This story may be a derivative of one in which Filippo Brunelleschi, instead of Columbus, makes the proposition. The Brunelleschi story is set before he won the contract to build the dome of the cathedral of Florence.

In the story, Columbus asks the gentlemen in attendance to make an egg stand on end. After the gentlemen successively tried to and failed, they stated that it was impossible. Columbus then placed the egg's small end on the table, breaking the shell a bit, so that it could stand upright. Columbus then stated that it was "the simplest thing in the world. Anybody can do it, after he has been shown how!"

There is a monument to Columbus' egg in Sant Antoni de Portmany.


Tesla's Egg of Columbus

Nikola Tesla, at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, demonstrated a device he constructed known as the "Egg of Columbus". It was used to demonstrate and explain the principles the rotating magnetic field model and the induction motor. Tesla's Egg of Columbus performed the feat of Columbus (without damaging the egg) by means of a rotating magnetic field. The egg spins on its major axis, standing on end due to gyroscopic action.

Tesla's device used a toroidal iron core stator on which four coils were wound. The "egg" was composed of copper. The device was powered by a two-phase alternating current source (such as a variable speed alternator) to create the rotating magnetic field. A three-phase alternator would work just as well, if not better. The device operated on 25 to 300 hertz current. The ideal operating frequency was described as being between 35 to 40 hertz. A reproduction of the device is displayed at the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade.


Egg of Columbus can refer to a puzzle of which originated in the 19th century (China). This is a variation of the types of puzzle (known more generally as a tangram) which consist of pieces divided and arranged to match particular designs.

Further readings

  • Corum, K. L., J. F. Corum, and J. F. X. Daum, "Tesla´s Egg of Columbus, Radar Stealth, the Torsion Tensor, and the 'Philadelphia Experiment' ". 1994 International Tesla symposium, Colorado Springs, 1994.
  • "Tesla's Egg of Columbus". Electrical Experimenter. New York, March 1919. (Reprinted in "Strange Stories from Electrical Experimenter Magazine, 1917-1919" by Lindsay Publications)

External links and references

General story

  • Baldwin, James, "Columbus and the egg (". 1903.
  • "Columbus' egg? Brunelleschi got there first (". ANSA.
  • "Florence (". Brunelleschi egg-shaped cupola model.

Tesla's device

  • "Nikola Tesla's Egg of Columbus, (" including a photograph of the device in action. Twenty First Century Books.


es:Huevo de Colón sv:Columbi ägg


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