Need for Speed: The 12 Fastest High-Tech Gadgets In the World

Dan Scharff

As the technological parade marches forward, it tends to step a bit livelier with every passing innovation. It's in this spirit of momentum that we salute the fastest stuff on Earth.

If patience is a virtue, just call us speed demons. A technology is defined as a system of applied science, craft, or art. In other words, it's a way of getting things done. As tech lovers, it seems only natural that each iteration of a technology accomplish those things a little faster and more efficiently. Whether it's to move people over land, air, water, or snow; process bits; liquefy coffee beans; or chipify wood, we ain't hatin' on acceleratin'. With a little help from Guinness World Records and our sister publication T3 in the UK, we present the following supremely fast inventions.

Fastest Production Car


With an 8-liter, 16-cylinder, quad-turbocharged engine capable of making 1,001 horsepower, the Veyron 16.4 revs up from 0-60mph in less than 2.5 seconds—on its way to 250mph in about 42 seconds. Yeah, it's peppy. In June 2010 in Ehra-Lessien, Germany, one of these rare beauties set the land speed record for a commercially available automobile at 267.86mph. And when we say it's "available," that's kind of like saying Jennifer Aniston is available. Chances are the closest you'll get to experiencing this speedster is through TV and magazines. Proving us wrong on that count will cost you a base price of $2,426,904. That's right—AC is extra.

Fastest Thing on Four Wheels


To break the land speed record for a car, a vehicle must have four wheels, and the Bloodhound SSC complies. Other than that, this thing is basically a rocket with a passenger seat. A rocket and a jet engine provide 47,000 pounds of thrust. Three years in the making and built with the express purpose of shattering the land speed record, the Bloodhound SSC is expected to break 1,000mph later this year. The speed of sound is 768mph, just a bit faster than the current land speed record of 763mph from the Thrust SSC, which was designed by the same Richard Noble-lead team now working on the Bloodhound.

Fastest Electric Motorcycle


The apocryphally named Flying Banana MK II is actually a new version of the Lightning Motorcycles SuperBike production motorcycle. This August at the Bonneville Salt Flats, the Lightning bike set a new land speed record for electric bikes of 206.1mph. That speed was an average of several runs, and the top speed overall for the Lightning hit 208.4mph. Not only was that a record for battery-powered bikes, but it was also the first time an electric motorcycle broke into the exclusive 200mph club (which includes only 65 dino-powered bikes).

Fastest Production Motorcycle


It's named after a peregrine falcon that can dive bomb at speeds of 180 mph, so the Hayabusa had better be slick. With a six-speed transmission, its 16-valve, liquid cooled engine delivers 1340cc for achieving flight-like speeds of 194mph. At that velocity, you'll be applying another layer of dust to the already dingy Harley riders in your wake. Or maybe you could just keep yourself and your $13,699 investment safe and not weave between multiple lanes of slow-moving cars on gridlocked highways. Yeah, right.

Fastest Rollercoaster


If you want to experience the world's greatest coasters, you must travel to Sandusky, Ohio to visit the Cedar Point amusement park. That's bad enough. We repeat: Sandusky, Ohio. But if you want to sample the world's fastest rollercoaster, you'll have to study up on arcane cultural mores and jet to the United Arab Emirates for Ferrari World's Formula Rossa ride. Designed to mimic a true Formula One racing experience, the Formula Rossa rollercoaster train looks like a Ferrari F1 car, and revs like one, too. With safety goggles donned, you'll accelerate to 150mph in 4.9 seconds, experiencing face-stretching G-forces and sharp turns of up to 70 degrees over the 1.4-mile track—the 4th-longest rollercoaster track in the world.

Fastest Stand-Up Rollercoaster


Because you're not already standing in line long enough, some rollercoasters offer the added charm of standing up during the ride—thoroughly locked into place, of course. For the superlative stand-up coaster thrill, check out the Riddler's Revenge at Six Flags Magic Mountain in the greater Los Angeles area.

It's not only the fastest stand-up coaster—at 65mph—but it's also the tallest, reaching a top height of 156 feet. Over the course of the many loops and barrel rolls of this three-minute ride, you'll feel G-forces up to 4.2Gs—more than space shuttle astronauts felt during launch and re-entry.

Fastest Flying Rollercoaster


Lucky you. As long as you're at Six Flags Magic Mountain, you can queue up for another tallest/fastest ride. This time it's Tatsu, the tallest and fastest "flying" rollercoaster, where you're strapped in underneath and parallel to the track to simulate the feeling of flying—and to conveniently steer vomit directly to the ground instead of toward other passengers. You'll reach 62mph and a peak cruising altitude of 170 feet during your flight.

Fastest Shoes


"Money, it's gotta be the shoes!" So spoke Mars Blackman (aka Spike Lee) in the famous—now vintage—Air Jordan commercials from 20 years ago. It wasn't true back then that the shoes made the man, and it's certainly not true now either. Still, the Puma Complete Theseus 3 Pro spiked running shoes earn the title of the world's fastest kicks. Why? Well, because they're frequently attached to the undisputed world's fastest man, Jamaica's Usain Bolt.

Much like Anthony Weiner, Bolt owns an impossibly appropriate surname to go along with his multiple sprinting world records (see chart). Who could forget that the undeniably gifted, arguably arrogant 21-year-old casually smashed records at the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics after a day of sleeping in and grubbing on Chicken McNuggets?

Bolt recently turned 25 and will be at it again next year for the 2012 summer Olympics in London. If he's to demolish more world records, an upgraded pair of Pumas could be marginally responsible. Yes, this is all about the shoes, after all. The $124.99 Complete TFX Theseus 3 Pro shoes are dedicated sprinting track shoes with synthetic microfiber uppers and soft microfiber suede linings. Each shoes includes eight 3/16" pyramid spikes and weighs about 5.6 ounces (for a size 9 men's). ,

Place some trainers on Usain Bolt and, voila, they become the world's fastest shoes. The Puma Complete Theseus 3 Pro, favored by Bolt, are spiked shoes designed specifically for the 100m and 200m. You can pick up some original 2008 Puma Theseus IIs on Ebay for around $40. Disclaimer: these shoes do not guarantee an Olympic gold medal.

Read most health literature today and it'll sell you the idea that to be a world-class athlete you should have a high-protein regime meticulously planned by your personal trainer. But what did Bolt give credit to for his Olympic world record-smashing success? McDonald's Chicken McNuggets. According to the interviews after the race, he woke at 11 a.m., watched TV and ate his first batch of nuggets, then had a sleep, woke to refuel with more nuggets, then headed to the track.
Usain Bolt's Personal Bests
100 meter
9.58 seconds (world record)
150 meter
14.35 seconds (world record) 2009
200 meter
19.19 seconds (world record) 2009
300 meter
30.97 seconds
400 meter 45.28 seconds 2007
4x100 meter relay 37.10 seconds (world record) 2008

Fastest Train


Last December, the Chinese Ministry of Railways set a world record for the fastest unmodified passenger train. On its way from Zaozhuang City in Shandong Province to Bengbu City in eastern Anhui Province, a CRH380A-type train topped out at 302mph, way more than enough to make American commuters pause for a bit of existential shame. This electric bullet train has a body of lightweight aluminum alloy and a power output of 9.6MW, putting the old Orient Express to shame.

Even though the train's speed occurred during testing and normal operation speed maxes out at around 236mph, that's still fast enough to warrant a catchier name with a little braggadocio. How about the World Domination Choo-Choo? We'll work on it.

Fastest Hovercraft


It was 1995 when American Bob Windt cranked up his modified UH19P hovercraft named Jenny II to a cheek-chapping 85.4mph at the World Hovercraft Championships in Peso de Regua, Portugal. The 19-foot Jenny II had a 100 horsepower V6 car engine powering its two propulsion fans.

It seems appropriate that the hovercraft speed record was set 16 years ago. We get the feeling that the record could have been easily broken by now, if anyone were actually interested in hovercrafts. If you were into GI Joe and Transformers toys in the '80s, the lumbering vehicles that could traverse land and sea seemed like the pinnacle of inventiveness. However, in these days of predator drones, autonomous cars, and computer Jeopardy champions, hovercrafts aren't as enchanting as they once were. Perhaps if there were a combined hovercraft/planetarium/electric bull, we could muster up enough nostalgia to spend an afternoon on it—but only if we had a Groupon.

Fastest Computer


This June, Japan laid claim to the world's fastest supercomputer, usurping China and the United States before it—in a big way. Fujitsu's K Computer (Linux) is capable of a staggering 8.2 petaflops (8.2 quadrillion floating point operations per second), whereas the next system on the TOP500 supercomputer list runs at 2.57 petaflops.

If supercomputing comes down to a numbers game, the K computer definitely knows how to play. Its architecture includes 68,544 2GHz 8-core SPARC64 VIIIfx processors (548,352 total cores) stuffed into 672 cabinets. It also brazenly uses a proprietary network interconnect called Tofu, apparently with no concern over possible spiked estrogen levels.

Feeding all that computing power requires a hell of a lot of…power. The K computer's power consumption of 9.89MW is more than twice that of any top 10 supercomputer; it's roughly enough power for 10,000 houses. Is it worth it? Don't judge until you see how it handles Battlefield 3.

Fastest Wood Chipper


Everyone loves that scene from Fargo where the guy who played a nihilist in The Big Lebowski gets caught feeding body parts into a wood chipper. If only he'd had the Vermeer BC600XL, he may have finished the job fast enough to get off scot free.

There are plenty of bigger, badder wood chippers out there that will handle more volume in a short amount of time. However, when it comes down to the pure speed with which the chipper converts branches and limbs of appropriate size into mulch nuggets, this little buzzsaw takes the prize. The BC600XL can handle material of up to six inches in diameter. And although it's only packing a modest 27 horsepower engine under the hood, when it turns on the speed, it can process 230 feet of material per minute—an industry best.

Fastest Espresso Machine


Have you ever been struck with the sudden, terrifying realization that your heart rate is normal and your hands are no longer shaking? You need a strong coffee injection, and fast. It's the Swiss Espresso Extractor to the rescue. In September 2008, a trio of Swiss inventors claimed the record for Fastest Espresso Machine when their contraption pumped out 11.5 liters (just less than three gallons) of espresso coffee in one minute.

The automated espresso maker takes up about as much space as a restaurant refrigerator and works similarly to any other coffee maker, just faster and on a much larger scale. So if you have the space for the machine, a large vat of coffee beans, and a big bucket, you too could produce enough espresso to kill a mid-sized water buffalo in 60 seconds. Sometimes you just need that extra boost.

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