There's no shortage of plans online for building a simple ping pong cannon that can fire balls at hundreds of kilometres per hour. But you're probably not going to find the details of Purdue University Professor Mark French's cannon, since his creation can accelerate a ping pong ball to 1450km/h, or just over Mach 1.2.
At that speed not only do you not have the slightest chance of returning the serve, it's probably best to be nowhere near the table because as demonstrated in this video, the ping pong ball is easily capable of blasting clean through a ping pong paddle.
In fact, forget guaranteed Olympic gold were this creation ever cleared for official competition. Even though they weigh next to nothing, the ping pong balls leaving the cannon have the equivalent energy and momentum as a bullet leaving a .32 calibre pistol, meaning in the right situation they could most certainly be lethal. So maybe ping pong will finally get the respect it deserves. [YouTube via Gizmag]