The first person to eat a crab…




the first person [ever] to eat a crab



someone who makes a discovery important to civilization, an innovator, he who dares wins


For example:

In an article about Professor Ye Peijian (( 叶培建 Yè Péijiàn More info here. )) – General Director of the Moon Exploration Project:

In 1995, as head of the technology department for a Shenzhen-listed VSAT network company, he made ground-breaking progress in satellite technology becoming an innovator [=the first person to eat a crab] in the field. (( 1995年,他作为技术负责人参加了深圳股票VSAT网的设计,这是卫星应用技术的一个开拓性项目,因此他成了我国卫星应用领域里“第一个吃螃蟹的人”。 Source: ))

And here is an example from an article on mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot:

From these examples it can be seen the fractal geometry is very simple and clear-cut, much less demanding than any mathematical field being explored today – it seems there is nothing extraordinary about it. And yet it is no easy thing to be the first person to eat a crab, even the second and third person to eat crab have a tricky time of it. In many aspects of fractal geometry, even if Mandelbrot was not to first to eat the crab in question, he made crab eating fashionable. Much of his contribution to the field takes this [inspirational] form, and he eventually created fractal science from these many disparate discoveries. (( “从这个实例可以看出,分形几何非常直观、简单,比现在任何一种数学都简单几 百倍,似乎没什么了不起。但第一个吃螃蟹的人不容易,第二、第三个吃者也不简单。对于分形几何学中相当多内容,即使芒氏也不是第一个吃螃蟹的人,但他使吃螃蟹成为了时尚。他做的许多 贡献都是这 种性质的,他最终将毫无头绪的“杂多”综合在一起,创立了分形科学。” Source: ))

There’s also this nice legend, not sure of the source but I got it from

Millennia ago, legend tells of a creature with two pincers and eight legs that lived in the lakes and rivers, a shelled thing of fiendish appearance. Not only did it eat the crops in the field, it would attack people with its pincers, and thus was known as the mangling pest. When Yu the Great [founder of the Xia dynasty] came south to tame the flood waters he sent the warrior hero Ba Jie to supervise the engineering work. However, the mangling pests would beset the workers and cause delays. To foil them Ba Jie dug a moat around the city filled with boiling water. When the mangling pests swarmed they leapt one after another into the moat and were boiled alive. The cooked mangling pests had turned red in colour and gave off a delicious, intoxicating aroma. Curious, Ba Jie split open one of the creatures’ shells and the aroma became even stronger. He steeled himself and took a bite, the flesh more delicious than anything he had ever tasted. Thus it was the feared creatures soon became a household dish. In gratitude for Ba Jie’s daring, the people created a name for the creature placing the character for Ba Jie’s name (解) over that of pest (虫) to create the word for crab (蟹), signifying that Ba Jie had subjugated the mangling pest, becoming the first person to eat a crab. (( 相传几千年前,江湖河泊里有一种双螯八足,形状凶恶的甲壳虫。不仅偷吃稻谷,还会用螯伤人,故称之为“夹人虫”。后来,大禹到江南治水,派壮士巴解督工,夹人虫的侵扰,严重妨碍着工程。巴解想出一法,在城边掘条围沟,围沟里灌进沸水。夹人虫过来,就此纷纷跌入沟里烫死。烫死的夹人虫浑身通红,发出一股引人的鲜美香味。巴解好奇地把甲壳掰开来,一闻香味更浓。便大着胆子咬一口,谁知味道鲜透,比什么东西都好吃,于是被人畏的害虫一下成了家喻户晓的美食。大家为了感激敢为天下先的巴解,用解字下面加个虫字,称夹人虫为“蟹”,意思是巴解征服夹人虫,是天下第一食蟹人。 ))


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