Is Cheetah No Longer the Fastest Land Animal?

By Anupum Pant

Read this for the answer to the question above

If you haven’t previously heard of the Betteridge’s law of headlines, also known as the Davis’ law or the journalistic principle, here’s what it says:

Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.

(Of course, you aren’t supposed to take the “law” too seriously.)

Did you see the headline for this article? So, basically you can read no further and still say – No, Cheetah still is the fastest land animal. But if you look deeper, things sure get interesting.

Absolute Speed vs. Relative Speed

To be specific, Cheetah is the fastest land animal because its absolute speed on land is the highest (112 to 120 Km per hour). When you measure absolute speed, you don’t take into account anything other than the speed. The weight or size of the animal doesn’t matter. Here, Cheetah is a clear winner.

But, when you do take into account the body length of an animal and measure the speed in terms of, number of body lengths the animal can cover in a single second, there are number of other animals that beat Cheetah by a huge margin.

Here’s a fact – When running at full speed, cheetahs can cover the length of up to 16 to 20 cheetahs in a single second. That’s pretty fast. The fastest humans on earth can do about 10 – 11 body lengths per second. [Source] Do you know what’s the fastest animal of you measure speed relative to their respective body lengths? Wait for it…

It is a mite. Yes, a tiny little 1-2 mm Californian blood sucker can cover up to 322 body lengths in a single second! Scientists just found out about it. Graphic designers who’ve used elegant cheetah silhouettes to represent speed in their graphics will have to use a tiny blood sucker now? How disappointing!

By the way, 322 body lengths in a single second of a sesame sized animal translates to just about 0.8 km per hour of absolute speed. But, imagine this. If it (the Californian mite) were the size of a human being (which it is not), it would have moved at a whopping 2,100 km per hour. I know the physics of it would have been different in case it were that big. Since it is not, we aren’t even putting in the effort to consider those details at the moment.

In case someone comes searching for the scientific name of this mite, it is called – Paratarsotomus macropalpis (I won’t remember that)

Other land animals “faster” than the Cheetah

  • The Australian tiger beetle held the record before they found out about the tiny mite. The beetle can cover up to 171 body lengths in a single second.
  • The household cockroach is pretty fast too. It does about 50 body lengths in a single second.
  • The ghost crab can run at about 100 body lengths per second.

All of them, much “faster” than the cheetah (in relative speed). And still Cheetah always wins the race because it is absolutely the fastest land animal. Still. Please don’t trust the click bait titles like:

Cheetah beaten to title of fastest animal in the world by tiny Californian mite

He Lives With No Heart Beating in His Chest

By Anupum Pant

Imagine this…
You are a doctor. A patient comes to you complaining of something and now you need to check his heartbeat. You plug the stethoscope in your ears and confidently move the probe to touch the chest of this patient, only to find that there is no heart beating inside that chest! In medical terms, isn’t this a dead man walking?

The answer is no, he is as alive as we are.  Medical technology has made it possible for a man to live without a traditional beating heart. Two incredible doctors, Billy Cohn & Bud Frazier, in the year 2011, replaced Craig A. Lewis’s lifeless heart with a revolutionary artificial device – A device that can replace your heart and lets the blood flow continuously – without a beat. By all criteria that doctors use to analyse patients, Craig is dead.

Side note: Do read about that scientist who died and came back to life – [Is There a Scientific Explanation for Everything?]

There is no beating when it works. Through a stethoscope, a doctor would probably hear a continuous whistling of blood sluicing through synthetic pipes and motors (I’m not sure about that). The two doctors had been testing it on cattle and it was their only hope to save Craig’s life. So, they decided to do it – replace his heart with this revolutionary device.

Related article: A heart that runs on nuclear energy – [Nuclear powered pacemakers for the heart]

Yes, technically you could say Craig A. Lewis is a heartless guy, but this is a serious leap in medical technology we are talking about here.

You cannot miss this very-short BBC documentary – “Heart Stop Beating” – where both the doctors talk about how they did something that had never been done before. [Video]

Heart Stop Beating | Jeremiah Zagar from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

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