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Speed

Want to know how fast something is? How quickly it moves and how long it will take to get somewhere? If you know the speed then you can.

Speed limit signs in km/hIn metric, speed is usually measured in kilometres per hour. The kilometre is a unit of length. Another unit of length, the metre, can be also be used as the basis for speed, as in metres per second. Kilometres per hour is abbreviated to km/h, and metres per second to m/s. Metres per second are mostly used for more scientific usage, and we really only need to worry about km/h here, although it is interesting to note that average human walking speed is around 1 metre per second, which makes it very easy to remember, equivalent to 3.6 km/h — multiply metres per second by 3.6 to get kilometres per hour, or divide km/h by 3.6 to get m/s.

Here are some example speeds:

Speed Typically found
0 km/h
Stationary objects, not moving,
parked car
parked cars
1 m/s, 3.6 km/h
Average human walking speed
walking at 3.6 km/h
20 km/h
Easy cycling speed on a bicycle
cycling at 20 km/h
50 km/h
Typical car speed on residential roads or busy city roads
cars on residential/slow roads at 50 km/h
80–90 km/h
Vehicle on main road, travelling reasonably fast
cars at 80 km/h
100–120 km/h
Fast car on motorway, typical speed of a cheetah running, freight trains
motorway speeds at 100 km/hcheetah runs at over 100 km/h
200–300 km/h
High speed train
high speed trains at 200 km/h
360 km/h
Racing car
racing car at 360 km/h
800–1000 km/h
Airliner cruising speed
airliner cruising at 1000 km/h
340 m/s,
1224 km/h
The speed of sound at sea level on Earth (it varies according to altitude, air pressure, and in space the speed is zero), also known as Mach 1
1228 km/h
Current world land speed record, held by the ThrustSSC car (Mach 1.016)
Thrust SSC at 1228 km/h
2012 km/h
The fastest speed recorded by the Concorde aircraft in 1996
concorde travelled at 2012 km/h, Mach 2
1000 m/s, 3600 km/h
Speed of a bullet from a rifle
bullet speed is 1000 metres per second
26 000 km/h
Re-entry speed of the space shuttle
Space Shuttle re-enters Earth's atmosphere at 26000 km/h
40 320 km/h
Earth’s escape velocity
Earth's escape velocity is 40320 km/h
299 792 458 m/s, 1 079 252 849 km/h
The speed of light, which we can approximate to 300 million metres per second, or 1 billion kilometres per hour
speed of light is 298 million metres per second

 

Wind Speeds

We can measure wind speeds in kilometres per hour. The chart below shows us what various wind speeds relate to in terms of calm, hurricane, etc.

 

Wind speeds in km/h

 

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Ruler in centimetres, because metric is very useful