These truisms proved false in 2015

Brontosaurus is back, manipulating the speed of light and a warm-blooded fish

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE  Yes, Brontosaurus is a real dinosaur genus. No, the speed of light is not always constant. And, some fish are warm-blooded — sort of. 

Davide Bonadonna, Milan, Italy

Some truisms turned out to be false in 2015 — notably, Brontosaurus exists only in pop culture, the speed of light is always constant and fish are cold-blooded. With time and scientific scrutiny, the truth came out.

Welcome back, Brontosaurus

After a century of mislabeled ignominy, the “thunder lizard” reclaimed its iconic genus name. Brontosaurus is Apatosaurus no more. Subtle differences between skeletons of the massive diplodocids — including the narrower, weaker neck of Brontosaurus — restored the dino to its former glory (SN: 5/2/15, p. 14).

Photo(n) finish

Light in a vacuum travels at the speed of light — except when it doesn’t. Manipulating the structure of a light pulse can slow it down. When a tinkered-with photon races a pristine one, the Franken-photon consistently comes in second by a few micrometers per meter of the distance traveled (SN: 2/21/15, p. 7).

Cold fish, warm heart

Most fishes are as cold as the water they swim in. Not the opah (Lampris guttatus). It can keep its heart up to 6 degrees Celsius warmer. Unusual gills let the fish use muscle-generated body heat to take the chill off blood that has just picked up oxygen from cold seawater (SN: 6/13/15, p. 7). 

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