Up until midcentury, the fastest thing in the world, apart from light, was sound. Travelling at 343 meters per second (1230 kph or 767 mph), sound was faster than even the most devastating craft of war.
But then, in 1947, Air Force Captain Charles “Chuck” Yeager broke the sound barrier in Glamorous Glennis, his Bell X-1 aircraft. It was such an accomplishment at the time that he and the team he worked with were honored at the White House by Commander in Chief Harry S. Truman.
The next year, in 1948, a Northrop unmanned rocket sled became the first land vehicle to achieve supersonic speed, reaching 1,020 mph before careening off the rails. “She jumps the tracks! Rocket on a rampage!” The news announcer chirped on a broadcast announcing the news.
Then, in 2010, Felix Baumgartner became the first human projectile to break the sound barrier when he successfully completed a Red Bull sponsored free fall from the edge of the atmosphere down to the New Mexican desert.
In short, humans like speed. We like extremes. We like telling Mother Nature that, with labs, we can supersede her. So, with that said, hunker down and get ready to find out the 10 fastest things in the world.
10 The Fastest Production Car
The unofficial fastest road car in the world is the Hennessey Venom GT, which reached 270.49 miles per hour in 2014. By doing that, it beat out previous winner Bugatti Veyron Supersport and is now the fastest road car in the world. However, the score wasn’t recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records, because it requires a run in two directions, which the car was unable to complete on its track, the NASA Space Shuttle landing runway. So for the time being, the fastest car according the industry standard is the Bugatti Veyron SuperSport, which goes from 0 to 60 in just 2.4 seconds.
9 The Fastest Non-Production Car
The Thrust SSC, also known as the Thrust Supersonic, is the fastest non-production car ever made. It’s a British jet-propelled vehicle, which became the first car to break the sound barrier, driven to 763 miles per hour in 1997 by Royal Airforce Pilot Andy Grain in the Black Rock Desert, in Nevada. The car is powered by two after-burning RR Space Turbo fan engines, and has a net thrust of 223 KN as well as a power output of 1110 horsepower that gobbles up 18 litres of gas per second. It’s 16.5 meters long, 3.7 meters wide, and weights 10.5 tonnes.
8 The Fastest Man
An eight-time world champion of sprinting, Usain Bolt has been named the fastest man alive (born in Jamaica, in 1986, he is currently 29 years old.) He is the first man to hold both the 100 meter and 200 meter world records and he is also the first man to have six Olympic gold medals in sprinting. Although his actual name implies speed enough as it is (yes, his actual name is Bolt), he has been nicknamed “Lightening Bolt” to further enhance the imagery of high speed. He is the highest-paid track and field athlete of all time.
7 The Fastest Computer
Does it come as any kind of surprise that the fastest computer in the world, called the Tianhe-2, would come from China? The orient is a mysterious locale of technological supremacy. This particular computer can run 33.86 quadrillion floating point operations in 1 second. That’s 4000 times better than Apple’s most powerful Mac. It’s located in China’s National University of Defense Technology. It runs on a form of Linux that was specifically designed for it by that institution and costs more or less $390 million.
6 The Fastest Ambulance
The world’s fastest ambulance, the Lotus Evora, was premiered at Gitex in Dubai’s World Trade Center. This emergency vehicle is absolutely one of a kind, being made out of a $150,000 car. At that price, it can reach 185 miles per hour, which is tempered a little by the fact that it’s only a two-seater, but in matters of life and death, every second counts. The ambulance is outfitted with a control box, a siren, flashing lights, and a hard-screen notebook that allows the paramedics to send information about the passenger to the hospital they’re travelling towards.
5 The Fastest Rapper
NoClue, born Ricky Raphael Brown, is an American rapper from California. He has two EPs, a mixtape, and the honor of being the fastest rapper ever recorded (to be honest, we thought it would be Twista or Busta, too.) In 2005, before a licensed speech therapist, NoClue attempted to snag the record. He managed to spit 723 syllables in 51.27 seconds, which amounts to more or less 14.1 syllables per second. We found a little video of NoClue rapping on YouTube. It’s too fast to be made out, but it sounds a lot like something on fast-forward, meaning he’s not saying nonsense.
4 The Fastest Water Slide
Insano in Brazil is the fastest waterslide in the world. How is it so impossibly quick? Well, it’s 41 meters high, or roughly the height of a 14 storey building, and also it’s so steep that the majority of the ride, the park-goers spend in mid-air, only landing in cushy water at the end. It’s essentially a 5 second, 65 mile per hour free fall. If you thought the Superman was scary, try going almost exactly as fast as it, except for without anything at all to hold you in place.
3 The Fastest Plane
The fastest plane on earth (the fastest plane off earth?) is the SR-71 Blackbird. Although it’s almost more than a century old, it remains the fastest vessel in flight. No plane has beaten it since, in speed. It can thank its engine nacelle for its haste. It has bypass tubes that only activate after it reaches mach 2.2, which funnel air into the afterburner and make the plane a paragon of fuel and energy efficiency, even this late in the game. The piece of equipment is, none-too-surprisingly, an American creation, which was retired from the USAF in ‘98 and from NASA in ’99.
2 The Fastest Rollercoaster
The fastest rollercoaster in the world is called the Formula Rossa and is located at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. This rollercoaster is launched, meaning that it used hydraulic pressure to propel it to its top speed (150 mph, by the way, which it reaches in approximately 5 seconds.) Because of its extreme speed, the track is also very long (or else the ride wouldn’t last any time at all), coming in at 2.2 km, or the world’s 6th longest. It goes so fast that the people who ride it need to wear protective goggles, lest they come into contact with an insect-turned-diamond by speed.
1 Fastest Land Animal
Although a cheetah has spots, it typically just becomes a black-and-beige blur as it skitters through the air at speeds up to 75 miles per hour. That’s right: the cheetah can run as fast as a greyhound… bus. Its acceleration can get up to 62 mph in the first 3 seconds of its sprint, which is faster than most cars. To think that a gazelle, although quick, can only run at about 50 mph tops, it’s a wonder that there are any of them left since they are one of the cheetah’s main sources of tasty, rare meat.