Athletes and cars aren't the only ones with a need for speed. Animals, astrophysicists and riders of roller coasters also pursue jaw-dropping velocities. Here are some of the fastest things in the world.
Fastest roller coaster
Speed: Positively face-peeling. And the ride's hill is double-digit stories high.
Where: Ride it at a U.S. amusement park.
Price: Built in 2005 at a multimillion-dollar price.
See: Riders' amateur videos.
Compare: The fast roller coaster could travel from Chicago to this U.S. city in just 60 minutes.
Speed: Scientists have clocked an adult female Acinonyx jubatus at this velocity.
Where: Sub-Saharan Africa and central Eurasia, as seen on its territory map.
See: Here's video, plus the National Zoo's live webcam.
Compare: Almost half as slow, a North American animal is faster over long distance.
Speed: The North American X-15 hit Mach 6.72, which is this in miles per hour.
Where: Over Murdock Dry Lake, Calif., though the plane didn't take off there. Why?
See: Watch videos of the X-15; visit one at this museum.
Compare: If commercial flights were this fast, L.A. to New York City would take 32 minutes.
Fastest home Internet service
Speed: Whoa. Yes, gigabytes. With a "g."
Where: Palo Alto? Redmond? Sorry. It's this Southern city.
Price: Ultra-expensive monthly fee.
See: Your current connection speed.
Compare: In five minutes, says the mayor, you download this institution's contents.
Fastest lava flow
Speed: Oozed almost 40 mph. Typically, lava ... flows ... slowly.
Where: In a country that rhymes with "Nyiragongo."
Price: The eruption cost 2,000 lives.
See: Recent activity. Nyiragongo remains active.
Compare: Could one of the world's fastest men have outrun it? Nope
Fastest lawn mower
Speed: The mower hit this top speed, enough for a ticket in every U.S. state.
Where: Achieved in Britain at a famous site for speed records.
See: Video of the mower in action.
Compare: Wales could mow a soccer field this quickly.
Speed: During this weather event, sensors measured a 253-mph gust.
Where: Barrow Island, Australia. The landscape is dotted with insect creations.
See: Gust-free video of the island's offbeat animals.
Compare: Hurricane Katrina's landfall speed was about half as fast.
Speed: He said the whole thing in 23.8 seconds, or this many words per minute.
Where: The performance was in a Scottish city; Shannon hails from another land.
See: The fastest talker in action.
Compare: Watch Laurence Olivier or Mel Gibson recite the same speech.
Speed: 15 inches per second, or this many miles per hour
Where: Across Europe, usually on the plant it eats
See: Photos of the speedy critters; videos of other fast caterpillars
Compare: Adjusted for size, its equivalent speed is faster than a cheetah.
Fastest manmade object
Speed: The craft reached 153,800 mph. Where was it going in such a hurry?
Where: Launched from Florida, Helios 2 was fastest 28 million miles from the sun.
Price: NASA split the bill with this country's space program.
See: Photos of Helios 2
Compare: The space shuttle (next launch?) orbits Earth about nine times more slowly.