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

Hydraulic motors propel riders of this roller coaster from zero to top speed in mere seconds.

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.

Fastest animal

Yes, it's a cat. Yes, one is the mascot of a crispy cheesy snack.

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.

Fastest airplane

This record has held since 1967. We're talking with a human pilot, not unmanned.

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

Have typical broadband? Now, imagine this many times quicker.

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

Molten rock traveled record speeds in 1977 from the Nyiragongo volcano.

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

U.K.'s Don Wales snagged the title this spring. Was he actually cutting grass?

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.

Fastest wind

Sorry, New Hampshire. Mount Washington's 1934 record has been beaten.

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.

Fastest talker

In 1995,Sean Shannon rapidly recited a famous soliloquy.

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.

Fastest caterpillar

Zippy critter Pleuroptya ruralis, who turns into this rather drab moth (pic).

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

The ultimate prize goes to 1976's Helios 2 deep-space probe.

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.