On Aug. 25, Charles Burnett III smashed a record that had stood for more than a century: the land-speed record for a steam-powered car. On a track at Edwards Air Force Base in California, Burnett was clocked at up to 151 m.p.h. (243 km/h) in his British Steam Car, which is 25 ft. (7.6 m) long, has 12 separate boilers and contains more than 2 miles (3 km) of tubing. It's affectionately nicknamed "the fastest kettle in the world."
The 50 Best Inventions of 2009
From a rocket of the future to a $10 million lightbulb, here are TIME's picks for the best new gadgets and breakthrough ideas of the year