Despite being the fastest man on Earth, Jamaican eight-time Olympic champion and legendary sprinter Usain Bolt, who is widely considered the fastest human being in history, ranks in last place in the “10 Fastest Things Ever” list compiled by the authorities at Guinness World Records.
Bolt ran the 100-meter distance in 9.58 seconds in the final of the World Athletics Championships in Berlin, Germany, on August 16, 2009, breaking his own record of 9.69 seconds, which he achieved just a year earlier at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Bolt also holds the records for the fastest time in the 150 meters with 14.35 seconds and the 200 meters with 19.19 seconds.
However, Bolt’s times, when compared to those of the fastest land animal over short distances, the cheetah, fall short, indicating there are still speeds at which humans cannot run. An adult female cheetah can run twice that fast. One was recorded in 1965 by Professor Craig Sharp of Brunel University in London achieving a speed of 64.3 miles-per-hour (103.4 km/h) over 201.2 meters, or 660 feet. The North American pronghorn antelope is the fastest land animal over long distances, having been observed clocking 34.8 mph (56 km/h) over 4.1 miles, or 6.6 kilometers.
Humans have been known to travel faster in certain circumstances, however. On October 14, 2012, Austrian Felix Baumgartner broke the record for the fastest freefall, jumping into space and traveling to Earth at 843.6 mph (1,357.6 km/h) during the Red Bull Stratos mission. He finished with a successful deployment of his parachute and a safe landing in which he broke eight world records, including a 52-year-old record for the highest freefall parachute jump and becoming the first human being to break the sound barrier in a freefall. The crew of the Apollo 10 held the record for the fastest speed attained by humans when Col. Thomas Patten Stafford, Cdr. Eugene Andrew Cernan and Cdr. John Watts Young reached the speed of 24,790 mph (39,897 km/h) in the Apollo 10 command module when it returned to Earth on May 26, 1969.
Other “fast things’ on the list include the fastest rollercoaster, which can reach149.1 mph (240 km/h) and 52 m upwards in 4.9 seconds; the fastest car, the Thrust SSC, which holds the fastest land speed record of 763 mph (1,227.9 km/h), or Mach 1.020, and was the first car to break the sound barrier over a distance of one mile in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada in 1997; the fastest aircraft, which reached a speed of 4,520 mph (7,274 km/h), or Mach 6.7, at an altitude of 31,120 m (102,100 ft) after launching from beneath a B-52 bomber in October 1967; the fastest planet, Mercury, travels at an average of 107,029 mph (172,248 km/h) to complete a full orbit every 87 days, 21 hours, or 2,000 times faster than a cheetah; and the fastest star observed in our galaxy is named S4714, which travels at 53,686,471 mph (86,400,000 km/h) or more than 400 times faster than Mercury. The speed of light, which is 670,616,629 mph (1,079,252,848 km/h) and equivalent to 10,337,670 cheetahs, has been determined to be an unbreakable Guinness World Record.
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