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From the fastest animal to the quickest speed date: 10 incredible speed records

Some dream of being invisible, some of having superhuman strength, others of mindreading. However, there will certainly be those who, faced with the possibility of choosing a superpower, would settle for super speed.

It doesn't matter if it's to beat world records, win some curious achievements or simply arrive on time at work. In hectic times, being fast is an appreciable quality, but in excess, it always risks costing dearly.

Full speed: 10 astounding records from across the world

1. The speed record on a bicycle

The speed record achieved by a human being riding a bicycle belongs to the American Denise Mueller-Korenek, who, on September 16, 2018, in the Bonneville Salt Flats desert (Utah), reached the speed of 184 mph.

The first to attempt a record of this kind was Charles Minthorn Murphy, who in 1899, using the trail of a locomotive, reached 96 km/h. Mueller-Korenek, on the other hand, used a dragster, an extremely aerodynamic vehicle used for acceleration races, to set her record.

Ride to the limit, and then even more
Riding her 2 metres long carbon fiber bike, Denise was escorted by another biker for the first and a half miles, until she reached a speed that allowed her to pedal autonomously for the rest of the journey, being careful to stay close to the dragster and follow the trail.

Mueller-Korenek, 45 years old and mother of three children, had already beaten the women's record in 2016, but with this feat, he also far surpassed the Dutch Fred Rompelberg, who in 1995 had only touched 166.5 mph.

2. The fastest man and woman in the world

The world records of 100 and 200 meters of running - the main velocity races in athletics - belong to the Jamaican Usain Bolt, who at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, respectively on 16 and 20 August, ran in 9"58 and 19"19, beating the already extraordinary records that he had obtained during the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008. For his performance, the sprinter earned the nickname Lightning Bolt. A lot of his success can be certainly attributed to training, but physical and genetic characteristics make him almost unbeatable.
The women's records, which have stood the test of time since 1988, belong instead to the American Florence Delorez Griffith-Joyner, who ran respectively the 100 meters flat in Indianapolis in 10"49 and the 200 meters with 21"34, this time in Seoul.

3. Speed record in free fall

The fastest speed ever achieved by a man in the atmosphere was that of Felix Baumgartner, who on October 14, 2012 - during the Red Bull Stratos mission - launched himself from a height of 38,969 meters, approaching 843.6 mph and thus breaking the speed of sound (which in the air spreads at about 745.645 mph).
A little jump for Felix, a big jump for humanity

4. Speed records in the animal kingdom

The fastest terrestrial animal is surely the cheetah, which can reach a velocity of 74.6 mph, if only for a few hundred meters. Better than it, on the long distances, is the American antelope, which can go on average as fast as 34.8 mph, with peaks of 55.9 mph.

In the water, the most lively mammal is the orca, with its 34.5 mph average velocity, whilst the sailfish, thanks to its particular structure and to the dorsal fin with which it is equipped, can swim up to almost 68.35 mph.

Among the birds, the white-throated needletail holds the flying record with 179,6 km/h, but it is the peregrine falcon that reaches the maximum speed ever calculated in the whole animal kingdom: it has been timed at a diving speed of 201.32 mph, though it can easily reach the 239 mph.

A reverse record for the snail, by far the slowest animal of all, with its 0.03 mph!

5. The unattainable speed of light

The maximum speed achievable in the whole universe is that of light: it is a limit written in the very physics of our cosmos. At its inception, it was a not infinite measure, which in 1676 prompted the Danish astronomer Ole Rømer to try to determine its limit.

Before him, Galileo Galilei had tried and so did several other scientists later on, such as the Dutch mathematician Christiaan Huygens, without ever reaching the precision of today's calculation. It is not, however, an absolute value, but always relative to the medium through which the light propagates: in vacuum, light reaches 299,792,458 m/s. This means that, if we could travel at the same speed, we could turn around the Equator seven and a half times per second.

6. The fastest car

The first land speed record to have ever been recorded was in 1898, when the French pilot Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat reached 39.24 mph on board his Jeantaud Duc. In the following years, there have been continuous improvements on the technologies and the values have increased significantly, until the current record, recorded in October 1997 in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada by the English pilot Andy Green.
The satisfied expression of who had just become the fastest man in the world
The vehicle on which he raced, the Thrust SuperSonic Car, powered by two Rolls-Royce Spey jet engines, was the first vehicle to break the sound barrier and, years later, reached a speed of 763 mph. This record is unbeaten to this day.

The ThrustSSC is currently being held at the Coventry Museum of Transports, in England.

7. The speed records on the ski

The world record for speed on skis belongs to the Italian Ivan Origone, ski instructor and mountain guide from Aosta Valley. The athlete, who in the past had already conquered the world junior record as fastest skier, on March 26, 2016, in Vars, France, reached the speed of 158,42 mph, beating the records obtained that same day by the French Simon Billy first and by his brother Simone Origone.

8. The most numerous speed date

On 14 February 2014, to celebrate its 500th event, the Calgary Speed Dating agency organized the world's largest speed date, certified by the Guinness World Record. At the Telus Spark Science Centre in Calgary, 651 willing participants met for 20 rounds of 3-minute appointments each, hoping to break the record and, who knows, to fall in love!

9. The first speeding fine

The Englishman Walter Arnold is the first person in history to have been fined for speeding. In January 28, 1896, the man, on board his means of transport, was joined by a policeman on his bicycle, who fined him for having reached 8.1 mph.

Today the news may make you smile, but it was a considerable excess since it "ran" in a stretch of urban road that allowed a maximum speed of only 2 mph!

The first road hijacker

10. The fastest cartoons

Speaking of speed, you can't help but remember the (un)adventures of Wile E. Coyote and his clumsy attempts to capture the very fast Roadrunner. Since 1949, year when the first episode aired, the unfortunate coyote has tried to capture his prey in every way, but most of the time ends up as a victim of his own traps.

Furthermore, to the cry of “Andale, Andale! Arriba, Arriba!” even Speedy Gonzales, the fastest mouse in all of Mexico, has amused both young and old ones. Born in 1953, still in the Looney Tunes universe, in the common imagination, he has become a symbol of cunning and cleverness, always escaping from his archenemy Sylvester Cat.

In one episode of the cartoon, Speedy and Roadrunner compete in a speed race, but are beaten on the finish line by Sylvester and Wile E. Coyote on board of a rocket: a bittersweet finale, ending with the two crashing!

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