CD-ROM drives are getting faster all the time; the one in my 18 month old Dell is 32x, and 128x units are on the market now. But did you know that drives over 64x are theoretically impossible to create? This article is an amusing demonstration of what can happen if you spin an ordinary CD too rapidly.
So how do manufacturers get away with it? The trick is that they only report the speed of reading at the outermost track (where the CD-ROM surface moves fastest); the drive actually slows down to read the innermost tracks to maintain a constant bitrate. The practical study above assumed a constant speed for the whole CD. Unfortunately, The Age in Melbourne missed this subtlety, and published a sensational article warning hapless PC users to stand clear of high-speed CD-ROM drives.