Fastest object ever?

Simple question: What is the fastest man-made object ever? The stock answer the last few years has been “the Voyager 1 spacecraft,” which after a few gravity slings on its way out of the Solar System has now reached a speed over 35000 miles per hour, or about 1.5 times Earth’s escape velocity. But nope, that’s not it.

Hint: It’s not a plane, a bullet, a rocket, or even a spacecraft, though it was ground-launched.

Would you believe something like an extra-large manhole cover? A steel disk four feet wide and four inches thick that for a brief period on a balmy summer night in 1957 it’s estimated by scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory to have reached six times Earth’s escape velocity. That’s 150 000 miles per hous, four times faster than poky Voyager 1.

Here’s the story on this, including links to ample official documentation.

Tell me what you think. My mind still reels every time I think about this amazing — absolutely, utterly amazing — series of events and what a magical time it must have been in 1957 to be free to do things like that. What a time, what a country.

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