Scientists Measure Speed of Cliche: Drop of A Hat Defeats Blink of An Eye


Speed fascinates us all. It is the rare contest that rewards the slowest. Our language reflects this fixation on the fastest. Vivid figures of speech attempt to impress upon the listener just how quickly something happens.

For those who may have wondered about the outcome of a race between the drop of a hat, the blink of an eye, a bat out of hell and other familiar contenders, we now have the results.

Professor Mohamed Abdel-Maguid, head of the Department for Science and Technology at University Campus Suffolk in the UK gathered this data. In case you're wondering if the professor has too much time on his hands, you should know that his CV is filled with awards and honors. His most recent paper is Enhanced Information Throughput in MIMO-OFDM based systems using Fractional Sampling and Iterative Signal Processing.

Speeds are indicated in meters per second and from fastest to slowest.


In a flash: 3,000,000,000 - speed of light


Lightening fast: 6,000,000 - speed of a lightening bolt


Faster than a speeding bullet: >1,524


In one fell swoop: 108.05 - speed of peregrine falcon, fastest self-propelled animal


Before you know it: >100 - speed of electrical impulse along human nerve


A bat out of hell: 35.8 - speed of diving Mexican free-tailed bat


Off like a hare: 19.4 - speed of a brown hare


Make it snappy: 13 - speed at which fingers can be snapped


Like wildfire: 7 - rate at which bushfires can spread


Drop of a hat: 5.7 - speed of a hat dropped in a vacuum from average head height


Blink of an eye: .033 - speed of eyelids during a blink