According to legend, explorer Christopher Columbus could make an egg stand on its end. (If you're curious and near a fridge, try it now before you read on.) Columbus demonstrated this in defence of his discovery of the New World. Surely if he hadn't found it, he was told, someone else would have. Historian Girolamo Benzoni wrote the tale in 1565:
Columbus was dining with many Spanish nobles when one of them said: 'Sir Christopher, even if your lordship had not discovered the Indies, there would have been, here in Spain, which is a country abundant with great men knowledgeable in cosmography and literature, one who would have started a similar adventure with the same result.' Columbus did not respond to these words but asked for a whole egg to be brought to him. He placed it on the table and said: 'My lords, I will lay a wager with any of you that you are unable to make this egg stand on its end like I will do without any kind of help or aid.'