Speed is something everyone wants, though some things are just not fortunate enough to be awarded with it. This applies to all walks of life, not just the annoying guy going 40 in the fast lane. Here are ten various things that have set the world record for slowness in their respective categories.
10. Three-Toed Sloth (Slowest Land Animal)
The three-toed sloth is a tree-living mammal found in South and Central America, and is the absolute slowest mammal on Earth, travelling at a mere 3 mph (4.8 kph.) So the “sloth” part isn’t just a clever name. It mainly trots along this slowly due to its lack of muscle tissues. It is so sedentary, in fact, that algae mistakes it for a common log and grows itself on its furry coat.
Luckily for them, although they are super-slow on land, this mammal is a very agile swimmer. Too bad they’re too damn lazy to take to the water full-time.
9. White Cedar (Slowest Growing Tree)
The white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) is an evergreen coniferous tree native to the northeast United States and the southeast of Canada, but widely cultivated as an ornamental plant. This species was first described by Carolus Linnaeus in 1753, and the binomial name remains current. One such tree, found on a cliffside in the Canadian Great Lakes area, only grew to a height of 10.2 cm (4 in) after 155 years, and weighed only 17 g (0.6 oz), averaging a growth of 0.11 g (0.003 oz) each year. The oldest white cedar, found on the Niagara Escarpment, sprouted in the year 688, making it more than 1,325 years old. And it’s still growing. We think.
8. House Sparrow (Slowest Bird)
Travelling at 15-18 mph (24-29 kph), the very common house sparrow is the slowest bird around in normal flight. Perhaps it is because of their population and high survival rate, but they really have nothing but time on their hands. However, if you take courtship displays into consideration, the slowest bird award goes to the American Woodcock and the Eurasian Woodcock, which both travel at only 5 mph without stalling.
7. Dwarf Syngnathidas (Slowest Fish)
The Dwarf Syngnathidas is a type of seahorse that swims at about five feet per hour, making it the slowest fish in the ocean. And yet they’re not lumbering beasts — as befitting their name, the dwarf seahorse typically measures less than 0.7 in (2 cm) in height. They use their teeny size, plus their ability to stand still longer than a guard at Buckingham Palace, to their advantage, and are some of the stealthiest hunters in the sea. They can lie in wait for hours, using their snout to slow down the water around them and catch all sorts of prey, all of which are typically much, much quicker than the seahorse. Fat lot of good that does them when swimming around inside an acid-filled belly.
6. Venus (Slowest Planetary Rotation)
Among the eight planets in our Solar System, Venus has the absolute slowest rotation. It takes 243 Earth days to complete one full rotation, while it only takes 224.7 Earth days for it to complete one revolution around the Sun, thus making it the only planet in the Solar System where a day lasts longer than a year. Part of the reason is that Venus rotates clockwise, while all other planets (save Uranus,) rotate counter-clockwise with respect to their North Pole. This odd rotation is what makes Venus the slowest rotating planet, and contributes to its less-than-paradisaical weather.
5. Libya (Country with the Slowest Internet Connection)
Internet was first introduced to the country of Libya in the year 2000, and hasn’t really improved much since, with 52% of its connections running under 256 kbps. Part of the reason for such pitiful speeds is that the country only has one Internet Service Provider, Libya Telecom and Technology, who are clearly overworked and probably apathetic. And yet, at present time, only 5.5% of Libyans have access to the Internet. Do Libyans even like cats?
4. Peel P50 (Slowest Car)
For only $16,000, you can be the actual slowest driver in the world, and not just the one angry people on the highway think is the slowest. Originally manufactured by Peel Engineering Company in 1962, this three-wheeled micro car held the record for the smallest automobile to go into production, at a kneecap-busting 56 inches long. One person can barely fit inside the car, which also weighs only 130 lbs — quite possibly lighter than the driver. It has a max speed of only 10 mph (16 kph), and has no reverse gear. Luckily, it is so lightweight that it’s very possible to just pick it up and turn it around when reversal is required. But act fast, because there are only 27 of them known to still be in existence. When they’re gone, they’re gone!
3. Dawn (Slowest Spacecraft)
Launched by NASA in 2007, Dawn is currently the slowest spacecraft in the cosmos. Travelling at a mere 28,129 mph (41,256 kph), its main mission is to study the two most massive objects in the asteroid belt: the protoplanet Vesta and the dwarf planet Ceres. It entered Vesta’s orbit on July 16, 2011, and is expected to arrive in Ceres in February 2015.
And while you may think 28,000 mph is pretty fast (it’s certainly faster than any of us can run), consider that the Voyager 1 was last clocked at going over 114,000 mph, a far more typical speed for a vehicle designed to explore billions and billions of miles. Compared to that, Dawn is practically tortoise-like.
2. As Slow as Possible (Slowest Song)
The longest and slowest piece of music in history, designed to go on for 639 years, is composed by late composer John Cage. It was originally a 20-minute piece for piano, but a group of musicians and philosophers decided to take the title literally, and work out how long the longest possible piece of music could possibly last. The music is being played in Halberstadt, a small town in central Germany renowned for its ancient organs. They settled on 639 years because the Halberstadt organ was 639 years old in the year 2000. The piece is expected to end in the year 2640, pending demands for an encore.
1. Absolute Zero (Slowest Speed Possible)
Temperature is a physical quantity which gives us an idea of how hot or cold an object is — it all depends on the speed the atoms which make up the object can shake. The colder an object is, the slower the speed of its atoms is. Absolute zero has a temperature of zero degrees Kelvin, theoretically the lowest possible temperature achievable as that is when an atom becomes 100% stationary. It’s believed to be impossible to actually reach absolute zero — the laws of thermodynamics state that absolute zero cannot be reached using only thermodynamic means — but one can get extremely close to it. As of now, we’ve managed to cool molecules down to 0.0001 Kelvin or, as we like to call it, beach weather.