"Imaginary numbers?! Are you saying math is like the Tooth Fairy? No! Math and science are things you can see! They're real!" they would say. "How about you jump off a bridge, Humpty Dumpty!"
Humpty Dumpty...what a cruel name. Granted, he had never had luck with names, anyway. I mean, his mom named him Eyes-Egg. What kind of a name was that? He was pretty sure his mother was a little crazy. She was one of those the-world-is-flat people.
He was getting quite boiled thinking about it all, when something thumped him on top of his head. He was now a little cracked, when he realized that it was an apple that had fallen from the apple tree. He stared at that apple for a minute or two, when he realized something:
"This is it! This apple fell because of gravity! Gravity...I like that name for it. It's something imaginary, but it explains the inexplicable! If I can share this with my colleagues, maybe they will take me seriously."
Eyes-Egg got up, and ran as fast as he could to the mathematicians forum where all his buddies would be playing "Predict the Infinite Nature of the Universe" - a highly complicated game that you would not understand. Upon arrival, he heralded his friends outside as he climbed up the nearest wall to make his speech and demonstration.
"My colleagues! You have laughed at me for years over my theories regarding the invisible and imaginary! But I shall have the last laugh now! Please - allow me to introduce to you, gravity."
With that, Eyes-Egg jumped from the ledge that had been his podium, landed on the ground with a crack, and oozed yoke everywhere. His colleagues all stood there, shocked, and about to vomit. One gave into the urge.
About this time, the king's men came by riding on their horses. At seeing the crowd, they came to a halt to see what was going on. Dismounting, they walked over to the mutilated shell of Eyes-Egg.
"Scrambled eggs!" one said. "Good thing I skipped out on breakfast!"
This story comes from the classic nursery rhyme of Humpty Dumpty:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
couldn't put Humpty together again.
I took this rhyme from The Nursery Rhyme Book (Andrew Lang, 1897). Now, when I made the connection between Humpty Dumpty and Sir Isaac Newton - thanks to gravity - the rest just fell into place. Plus, it helped to know a little bit about Sir Isaac's crazy latter years. It was a fun little idea I decided to run with while at work, and here is the product.