10 Fastest Things in the Universe

Much like Tom Cruise or that other dude in “Top Gun,” we occasionally find ourselves feeling the need for speed. Sometimes that means piloting an F-14A Tomcat aircraft with abandon in the skies, and sometimes, as we’ll see later, that means playing a video game as fast as you can. Whatever gets you revved up.

Since you already know that light is the fastest thing around, we’ll look at what other speedy items our universe, and maybe even a fictional universe or two, has to offer — from animals to superheroes and planets to toilets. Because, yes, it stands to reason that if toilets can move, then there must be one that moves fastest. And don’t tell me you’re not curious to know which one holds that honor.

So leash your cheetah, tell Usain Bolt to take a knee and buckle your seat belt as we power through our list of fastest things.

Let’s not slowly build suspense. Every fast list should start with the cheetah. These guys can reach speeds of 59 mph (95 kph) in seconds [source: Yong]. A somewhat surprising second-place contender for fastest? The pronghorn antelope, which can rival cheetahs with a speed of 53 mph (85 kph) [source: National Geographic]. So there you go: the speediest animals on the planet.

Not so fast.

If we’re counting water-based animals, the sailfish is our clear winner, reaching 68 mph (110 kph) — and that’s just what they’ve been clocked at when bursting out of the water [sources: National Geographic, Sagong et al.].

Now look up. The peregrine falcon cackles at the cheetah and sailfish eating its dust. When it’s hunting for smaller birds, the falcon can dive — at 200 mph (320 kph) — to strike its target [sources: National Geographic, Ponitz et al.]. The peregrine wins the title of fastest animal by a long shot.

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