Christopher Columbus once attended an elaborate banquet, held in his honor by the grand cardinal of Spain. Though treated with deference by most of the company, he was pointedly asked by an envious courtier whether he believed that someone else would have discovered the New World had he not done so first. Columbus did not reply directly, but, taking an boiled egg in his hand, invited the guests to make it stand on its end. When everyone had tried and failed, Columbus tapped the tip of the egg against the table. Partially crushed, it was soon set standing on its flattened base. The point was clear: once Columbus had shown the way, anyone could follow.