We all know the fastest possible speed in the universe is the speed of light, but what about the fastest production car, fastest land animal, fastest missile, or the fastest supercomputer? Below is our list of the 23 fastest things on earth that are fun to know.
23. Fastest Roller Coaster – Formula Rossa in Abu Dhabi
Formula Rossa roller coaster | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Speed: 149 mph
The title of the world’s fastest roller coaster goes to Formula Rossa, a steel-launched roller coaster located at Ferrari World amusement park in Abu Dhabi, UAE. It is manufactured by Intamin and inaugurated on 4 November 2010.
The maximum speed of Formula Rossa is 149 mph (239 km/h), about 21 miles per hour more than the second fastest roller coaster, Kingda Ka. A modern hydraulic launch system allows the coaster to reach its maximum speed in 4.9 seconds. Riders experience 4.8 G force throughout the journey.
22. Fastest Helicopter – Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey
An MV-22 of the U.S Marine Corps refueling before a mission in Iraq, 2008
Maximum Speed: 351 mph or 305 knots
The V-22 Osprey is an advanced military aircraft that combines the vertical takeoff and landing functionality of a typical helicopter with the long-range and high-speed capability of a fixed wing turboprop aircraft.
It is powered by two Rolls-Royce T406-AD-400 (also known as AE 1107C-Liberty) engines, each delivering 6,150 shp or shaft horsepower. The V-22 Osprey has a maximum speed of 351 mph (at 15,000 ft), while its maximum cruise speed is 306.1 mph. Its speed is comparable to some of the larger military transport aircraft, such as Lockheed C-130, and it can easily outrun conventional helicopters.
21. Fastest Car Crash Survived – 610 Miles Per Hour
What is the fastest car crash that anyone has survived? The answer is 610 mph or 981 km/h. In November 1966, drag racer and world land speed record holder Art Arfons crashed his jet-powered Green Monster automobile at a ferocious speed of 610 mph at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Astonishingly, not only Afrons survived but came out with just minor burns and bruises. Considering that most modern vehicle safety tests are performed at speeds of 50-65 km/h to access the safety in road-legal cars, surviving at more than 15 times that speed is almost surreal.
20. Fastest Ambulance – Modified Lotus Evora
Top Speed: 160 mph
In 2014, the Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services announced that it would add a modified Lotus Evora to its fleet of ambulances. This should not come as a big surprise given their use of extravagant cars, such as Ferrari FF and Lamborghini Aventador in law enforcement.
This modified Evora has a superior power-to-weight ratio and a top speed of 160 mph. It features all the basic paramedic equipment needed for an emergency situation, including defibrillators, splints, and oxygen bags. According to a source, this sports car ambulance will cut down the average response time taken by conventional vehicles by half.
19. Fastest Eater – Star Nosed Mole
A star-nosed mole | Image Courtesy: Ken Catania
Time: 277 milliseconds
The star-nosed mole is the fastest-eating mammal on earth. On average, it takes a star-nosed mole just about 227 milliseconds to detect, catch and consume its food. The animal acquired the name from its peculiar star-shaped nose made up of 22 small appendages (attached organ).
These appendages are covered with thousands of tiny sensory receptors, known as Eimer’s organs, that allow star-nosed moles to be highly efficient hunters. They can identify prey from their smell even underwater. Unfortunately for them, their nose also makes them one of the world’s ugliest animals.
18. Fastest Production Car – SSC Tuatara
SSC Tuatara side view | Image Courtesy: J.Smith831/Flickr
Two-way average speed: 282.9 mph
SSC Tuatara is the most recent production sports car from SSC North America, an exclusive sports car maker based in Richland, Washington state.
The Tuatara became the world’s fastest production car on January 27, 2021, after clocking 282.9 mph or 455.3 km/h at Space Florida Launch and Landing Facility. It broke the record set by Koenigsegg Agera RS. The speed test was later verified by Racelogic, an automotive testing firm specializing in vehicular tracking systems.
On a side note, it was Tuatara’s third attempt at breaking the previous speed record set by Koenigsegg Agera RS (277 mph) in 2017. On its first attempt, the car reportedly achieved a top speed of 316 mph but was refuted by several independent sources.
17. Fastest Non-Production Car – ThrustSSC
Thrust SSC on display at Coventry Transport Museum | Image Courtesy: Culture Coventry Trust
Speed record over 1 mile: 763 mph
ThrustSSC, short for Thrust SuperSonic Car, holds the record for the fastest non-production car with a top speed of 763 mph or 1,228 km/h. It is also the first land vehicle on record to break the sound barrier.
The car was powered by two Rolls-Royce Spey turbofan engines with a combined power output of 102,000 bhp. They were used in British F-4 Phantom II jet fighters. ThrustSSC set the record on October 15, 1997, in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, and was driven by Royal Air Force pilot Andy Green.
16. Fastest Boat – Spirit of Australia
Speed: 317 mph
Spirit of Australia is a wooden speed boat that currently holds the world water speed record. It was designed and built by Ken Warby, an Australian motorboat racer, in the 1970s specifically for setting such records.
On 8 October 1978, Ken Warby set the official world record on his speed boat, clocking over 275.98 knots or 317 mph on the Tumut River in New South Wales, Australia. According to sources, Warby broke his record in the same location a year later with a speed of 300 kN (344 mph), but it was not officially recorded.
The boat is fitted with a single Westinghouse J34 jet engine, which was used in various jet fighters and as a supplementary powerplant in larger aircrafts such as Lockheed P2 Neptune in the 1940s and 50s.
15. Fastest Man – Usain Bolt
Usian Bolt during the 2011 World Champions | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons/Stephane Kempinaire
Speed Record: 100 m in 9.58 seconds
The retired Jamaican athlete Usain Bolt is perhaps the greatest sprinter of all time. He is an eleven-time world champion and eight-time Olympic gold medalist in 100 m, 200 m, and 4 x 100 relay events. In the 2009 world championships, Bolt finished the 100-meter dash in a world record time of 9.58 seconds, breaking his own record of 9.69 seconds.
14. Fastest Woman – Florence Griffith-Joyner
Speed record: 100 meters in 10.49 seconds
In the 1988 U.S Olympic trials, American athlete, Florence Griffith-Joyner completed women 100 meters in 10.49 seconds, a world record that still stands. She broke the previous record, held by 1984 Gold medalist Evelyn Ashford, by 0.27 seconds. Her astounding 21.34 seconds record in 200 meters in the same Olympic trials also remains unchallenged.
In the 1988 Olympic finals, Griffith-Joyner won gold medals in three track and field events; 100 m, 200 m, and 400 m relay races. She finished the 100-meter sprint in 10.54 seconds.
13. Fastest Land Animal – Cheetah
Top speed: 68-74 mph
This is a no-brainer. Over short distances, Cheetahs can sprint at a top speed of 68-74 mph, and they can accelerate even faster (0-60 in 3 seconds) than most production cars. On a side note, the maximum speed attained by a Cheetah is slightly more than that attained by a pronghorn (88 mph).
It is the fastest land animal, estimated to be capable of running at 80 to 128 km/h (50 to 80 mph), with the fastest reliably recorded speeds being 93 and 98 km/h (58 and 61 mph), and as such has several adaptations for speed, including a light build, long thin legs and a long tail. It typically reaches 67–94 cm.
12. Fastest Running Insect – Australian Tiger Beetle
Australian Tiger Beetle, Rivancindela hudsoni
Top speed: 5.6 mph (9 km/h)
Rivacindela hudsoni, a ground beetle species from genus Rivacindela of subfamily Cicindelnae (tiger beetle), is the fastest running insect known on earth that can run at a top speed of 5.6 miles per hour or 120 body lengths per second.
It was first discovered in 1996 by Dutch researchers while performing tests on two species of tiger beetles found in Australia, Rivancidela hudsoni and Rivancidela eburneola (many sources address them as Cicindela, i.e, Cicindela hudsoni and C.eburneola). Both species have vestigial wings and thus are flightless.
11. Fastest Bird – Peregrine Falcon
A male peregrine falcon | Image Courtesy: Wikimedia commons/Sumeet Moghe
Maximum airspeed: 242 mph (389 km/h)
The peregrine is a large falcon species with a body length of anywhere between 13 inches to 23 inches and a wingspan of 47 inches. Peregrine falcons are known for their distinctive high-speed dive or ‘hunting stoop,’ during which they can achieve maximum airspeeds of more than 200 mph.
In a hunting stoop, a peregrine falcon makes a steep dive from a considerable height in the sky towards its prey. According to National Geographic, the highest recorded speed of a peregrine falcon during a hunting stoop is 242 mph.
10. Fastest Fish – Sailfish
Top speed: 22 mph or 68 mph
Sailfish is a member of the billfish family (Istiophoridae) that are mostly found in colder seas. The species is easily recognized by its relatively huge dorsal fin and a long, spear-like bill extending from its upper jaw.
Although not universally accepted, the sailfish is largely believed to be the fastest marine animal on earth. The sailfish is definitely one of the fastest fish species over short distances.
Studies in the early and mid-1900s estimated that the Atlantic sailfish could swim at a maximum speed of 68 mph in short bursts. Several sources have also reported a similar figure.
However, according to a recent study conducted in 2015, the maximum speed at which a sailfish can swim is no higher than 10 m/s or 22 mph.
9. Fastest Racket Sport – Badminton
Olympics 2012 badminton finals (mixed doubles) | Image Courtesy: Peter/Flickr
Maximum Speed: +186 mph
A shuttlecock, which is used during a game of badminton as a projectile, can reach speeds of more than 186 mph or 300 km/h, making badminton the fastest racket sport in the world.
Shuttlecock, also known as a birdie, is of two types; feathered, made of feathers (goose or duck), and synthetic, made of plastics. Feathered shuttles travel much faster than the synthetic ones after the initial impact from rackets, but they also slow down more rapidly due to higher drag.
A feathered shuttlecock of the highest quality can reach speeds of anywhere between 186 mph to 200 mph at one point of time during the flight.
8. Fastest Train – Shanghai Maglev
Top Speed: 268 mph (431 km/h)
Shanghai Maglev is the world’s oldest and fastest commercial electric train operating in Shanghai’s Pudong district in China. The entire project (also known as Shanghai Transrapid), which includes two 18.9 miles (30.5 km) long tracks and terminals, took US$1.33 billion and over two and a half years to complete.
The train set for Shanghai Transrapid was built by a joint collaboration between two German companies, Siemens and ThyssenKrupp. Another German firm, Vahle. Inc. was involved in the electrification of the line.
7. Fastest Internet – South Korea
Average connection speed (mobile): 59.6 Mb/s
Average connection speed (fixed broadband): 245.5 Mb/s
According to Opensignal, a U.K based mobile analytics firm, South Korea has the fastest cellular internet with an average connection speed of almost 60 Mb/s (as of May 2020). South Korea also enjoys the fastest fixed broadband internet with an average connection speed of 245.5 Mb/s.
6. Fastest Cruise Missile – Shaurya
Maximum Speed: Mach 7.5; 5,709.1 mph
Place of origin: India
Shaurya is a hypersonic surface-to-surface missile designed and developed by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), a counterpart to America’s DARPA.
During its third and final test flight in 2011, Shaurya attained the speed of 7.5 Mach covering 700 km in about 8.3 minutes and thus making it the fastest cruise missile in service yet. Shaurya is capable of carrying 400 lbs to 2,200 lbs warhead and has a maximum operational range of 1,900 km.
5. Fastest Supercomputer – Fujitsu Fugaku in Japan
A Fugaku PRIMEHPC FX1000 at SC19 | Image Courtesy: Raysonho
Performance: 442 Pflops (peak speed)
The speed or performance of a supercomputer is measured by its floating-point operations per second or flop/s. Since June 2020, the title of the world’s fastest supercomputer is retained by supercomputer Fugaku.
Fugaku is built by Japanese IT company Fujitsu in collaboration with RIKEN Center for Computational Science in Japan. The initial performance of Fugaku at the time of its launch was recorded at 416 Pflops (in LINPACK benchmark) but was increased to 442 Pflops after a hardware upgrade in November 2020.
4. Fastest Moving Star (in Our Galaxy) – S4714
Maximum velocity: 15,000 miles per second or 8% of the speed of light
In the center of our Milky Way galaxy is a supermassive black hole, designated as Sagittarius A (Sgr A), that pulls hundreds of nearby stars into its orbit and propels them into extreme speeds through gravitational boost. Most of the fastest-moving stars in the galaxy are located in that region.
The fastest-moving star in our galaxy is S4717 that has a velocity of 15,000 miles per second or 8% of the speed of light. It completes an orbit around the Sgr A in 12 years.
In comparison, the sun and our entire solar system are moving at an average velocity of 450,000 mph or 720,000 mp/h about the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Even with this speed, it takes the sun about 230 million years to make a single orbit around the galaxy.
3. Fastest Spacecraft – NASA’s Parker Solar Probe
Parker Solar Probe testing at Astrotech payload processing facility | Image Courtesy: NASA/Glenn Benson
Relative Velocity: 93 miles per second
The Parker Solar Probe was launched in 2018 by NASA to closely study the outermost layer (corona) of the Sun. It is the first-ever spacecraft to fly into the solar corona. On 29 April 2021, the probe made its closest yet approach to the solar surface at 6.5 million miles or 10.5 million kilometers. The distance between the earth and the Sun is approx. 93 million miles.
During this phase, the maximum velocity (relative to the Sun) of the Parker Solar Probe was recorded 150 kilometers per second (93 miles per second). But this is not the complete story.
According to its mission profile and flight trajectory, the Parker Solar Probe is expected to reach within 4.3 million miles to 3.8 million miles of the Sun’s surface during its final stages by the end of 2025. It will achieve that with an anticipated total velocity of more than 190 km/s.
2. Fastest Hypothetical Particle – Tachyon
Tachyon or tachyonic particle is a hypothetical particle that is believed to be faster than the speed of light. The word ‘Tachyon’ was first coined by Gerald Feinberg in 1967, but it was first proposed by German physicist Arnold Sommerfeld.
Recent studies and calculations have found that, unlike ordinary particles, tachyons gain speed while their energy decreases and vice-versa. The slowest speed achieved by tachyons is the speed of light.
1. Fastest Achievable Speed – Speed of Light
The speed of light is the maximum speed at which any matter, signal, or energy can travel through space. Its exact value is 299,792,458 meters per seconds (about 186,282.397 miles per second). The speed of light is a universal constant and has a fundamental role in physics.