People are impressed by speed in many forms. When we hear about a car, our first question is usually: “How fast can it go?” or “What’s the zero to sixty speed?” (This is often followed closely by: “OK, and how much does that particular supercar cost? Ah… alright, how about a Honda Civic, then, instead.”) From the fastest sprinter to the fastest plane to the fastest throw of a baseball to the fastest animal on four legs, in the water, and in the air, when something is quick, it’s compelling.
With that in mind, I scoured the land (and the air, sea, and even space) for some of the most amazing speed records out there, and not all of which you might ever have thought about. Sure, before his recent retirement from competition, Usain Bolt was the fastest professional sprinter on earth who shattered records left and right, but you already knew that. Did you ever stop to wonder what the fastest growing plant was, though? If so, you’ve come to the right place. If not, you might just find yourself lingering with this list anyway. You know that old expression about something be as boring as watching grass grow? Well what if the grass in question grew almost three feet in a single day?
15. The Fastest Production Car On Earth
If two have about two million, two hundred and fifty thousand dollars on hand, then you can purchase a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport and own the fastest production car ever made. How fast is the fastest production car ever? Try 267 miles per hour. However, I’m sorry to tell you, the cars come with a limiter that restricts their top speed to a paltry 257 MPH. (For the record, the Hennessy Venom GT is a faster vehicle, with a top speed just over 270 miles per hour, but due to its very limited production run, it’s not officially called a production car.)
14. The Fastest Humans Have Ever Moved
On May 26th, 1969, the three men aboard the Apollo 10 spacecraft (Thomas Stafford, Eugene Cernan, and John Young) his a speed faster than any human beings had ever moved before or have travelled since. Their return trip toward earth after a circuit around the moon saw the men moving at 24,791 miles per hour, which is abut 32 times faster than the speed of sound. For the record, though, that’s still just 0.004% of the speed of light, so we still have some records yet to be set. (Also for the record, no one is ever going to travel at light speed.)
13. The World’s Fastest Train
When you ride on the fastest train in the world, you travel a mile every ten seconds, at least when it’s at its top speed. Japan’s Maglev (magnetic levitation) train can move as fast as 374 miles per hour, though it usually ratchets things down a bit below that top speed. (Side bar: in addition to moving wildly fast, it floats an average of four inches above the train tracks. With basically no friction to overcome, the train can move at its amazing rate.)
12. The World’s Fastest Helicopter
Helicopters are great for their vertical take of and landing capabilities, but compared to planes, they’re really rather slow. Or at least most are, anyway. The vaunted and absolutely badass Apache AH-64 only moves at a top speed of 176 miles per hour (and, oddly perhaps, the huge CH-47 can fly right past it at its 196 MPH top speed). The Eurocopter X3 is not slow, though. It has a recorded top speed of 293 miles per hour in level flight, and it hit just over 300 miles per hour in a dive.
11. The Fastest Boat Speed Ever
The fastest water speed record ever was set back in 1978 by a man named Ken Warby. His modified water craft, which was really more of a jet craft that just happened to be skimming over water instead of flying (it was powered by a jet engine), was called the Spirit of Australia. And how fast did the Spirit of Australia move? Why, a paltry 317.5 miles per hour, that’s all. Yes, this boat could have outrun the world’s fastest helicopter.
10. The Fastest Submarine Ever
Amazing to think that the fastest submarine speed ever recorded was achieved half a century ago. The Soviet sub K-222 was commissioned in the late 1960s and set a submerged speed record up just over 51 miles per hour. The amount of energy needed to move much faster than that while submerged makes faster underwater travel impractical for submarines, and most in fact move a good 20 to 30 MPH more slowly. Even the K-222 itself was hardly cut out for her own high speed, apparently enduring damage created by the water pressure generated.
9. The Fastest Manned Aircraft Ever
The North American X-15 was a rocket powered airplane that first flew back in 1959. It was eight years later, though, that an X-15 set a record that still stands today. In October of 1967, an X-15 was detached from beneath he wings of a B-52 bomber, fired up its rocket engine, and flew at a mind-bending speed of 4,520 miles per hour. The last X-15 flight took place a year later in 1968, and in the half century since then, no other aircraft has come close to moving faster. (If you want to see an X-15 today, try the Air & Space Museum in DC. They’ve got a lovely one.)
8. The Fastest Manmade Object In History
The fastest a manmade object has ever moved was around 165,000 miles per hour. This record was set by the Juno space probe as it was whipped around by the massive gravitational pull of the planet of Jupiter on the 4th of July, 2016. How fitting a date. As of this writing, Juno is still orbiting Jupiter and sending back lots of data. Soon, it will fall out of orbit and be destroyed by the gas giant, but that’s OK: the only crew aboard the Juno spacecraft are three small LEGO figures.
7. The Fastest Fish In The Sea
The black marlin is the fastest fish in the sea. And the fastest in the ocean. If you put a black marlin in a river or lake, aside from being pissed off (and eventually dead) due to the lack of salinity in the water, it would be the fastest swimmer there, too. Black marlin have been recorded swimming as fast as 80 miles per hour. A typical speed for a motor boat pulling a waterskier, for your reference, is about 22 miles per hour. And that seems pretty exciting when you’re on the skis or on the boat, right? Well, this fish could swim past you going nearly four times faster.
6. The Fastest Bird In the World
Here’s some good advice for you: don’t be a field mouse, vole, shrew, chipmunk, or other small mammal. Why? Because peregrine falcons exist, that’s why. The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird alive, capable of surpassing the 200 mile per hour mark when in a controlled dive. In fact, one of these birds reportedly hit 242 miles per hour, making it faster than many combat aircraft flown during WWII. And with a range that essentially spans from the arctic to the southern tips of South America and Africa, a peregrine falcon could be hurtling down toward you pretty much anywhere on earth. If you’re a small rodent, that is.
5. The Fastest Insect On the Ground
Move over, Usain Bolt, if you see an Australian tiger beetle, unless you want this kind of freaking looking bug to climb over you. Which it will do at very high speed, as it turns out. This beetle, the fastest insect in the world — at least on legs; many species fly much faster than it runs — can zip along at 2.5 meters per second, which equates to 5.6 miles per hour. But a better measure is the fact that the Australian tiger beetle covers 125 body lengths per second. If you could do that, you’d be moving at a few hundred miles per hour.
4. The Fastest Bicycle Speed Record Ever
If you have ever ridden a bicycle down a steep hill and felt the thrill and exhilaration of the speed begin to turn to abject fear, then you can probably appreciate how amazing the fastest ever bicycle speed really is. Because believe me, you were probably moving less than a quarter of the speed of Fred Rompelberg when he set a record back in 1995 that still stands proudly today. Granted, he had the help of a draft created by a sports car to help him, but on October 3rd of that year, Rompelberg rode a bicycle at just over 167 miles per hour. (Side note: he was the oldest professional cyclist in the world at the time, too!)
3. Fastest Runner Ever (That We Know Of)
OK, fine, I admit it: I just can’t create a list of speed records without giving a nod to the undisputed king of the professional sprinting world, Usain Bolt. The man is a living legend, and is sure to be remembered for generations to come, even if some of his many records are one day surpassed. Bolt won eight Olympic gold medals during his career. His signature races, the 100 meter and 200 meter dash, saw him run those distances in a staggering 9.58 and 19.19 seconds, respectively. Bolt may be retired now, but never forget that at his peak, he had a top speed of 27.8 miles per hour.
2. The Fastest Speeding Bullet
When human beings first started firing bullets at one another, the rounds were often only traveling at about 250 miles per hour. That was still more than enough speed to kill, but it had nothing on the fastest bullet in the world. The .220 Swift rifle round has a muzzle velocity (the speed of the bullet when it leaves the gun and before air pressure and gravity and such slow it) of as fast as 4,000 feet per second, which is 2,727 miles per hour. Which is fast. But it’s even crazier, then, to realize that we’ve made manned aircraft that can outrun a bullet with plenty of breathing room…
1. The World’s Fastest Growing Plant
If you thought that the bristlecone pine was a fast-growing plant, then… well, you’re clearly not a botanist, because those things grow incredibly slowly. No, if you want a fast-growing plant, you need to look to bamboo. Most species of this unique type of grass are known for swift growth and for prodigious spreading, with certain hybrid varieties growing as fast as 35 inches in a single day or nearly 1.5 inches per hour! With a bit of patience, you can actually watch some types of bamboo growing.
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