54.234.0.85 Is there a place on Earth where no life exists? | Q&A | Focus Magazine | Science and Technology

Is there a place on Earth where no life exists?

Thursday 22nd October 2009
Submitted by Robert Matthews
Tanya Sebastian, by email

Life is incredibly resilient, and simple organisms have been found everywhere from Antarctica to the bottom of mines; even the so-called Dead Sea supports ‘salt-loving’ haloarchaea microorganisms.

There is one part of the world where nothing thrives, however: the Atacama Desert in Chile. The principal reason is the lack of water: some parts of the Atacama have not seen rain for decades. The acidic soil and high altitude – leading to relatively high levels of ultra-violet radiation – don’t help either.

Can mirages occur in cold places?
previous qanda Article
Why are moths attracted to lights?
next qanda Article
Q&A Tabs

Phlegm is the mucous secretion of the respiratory passages. The cilia cells that line these passages are continually driving the phlegm upward to the throat, where it triggers the swallow reflex...

The human body contains many salts, of which sodium chloride (AKA common table salt) is the major one, making up around 0.4 per cent of the body's weight at a concentration pretty well equivalent...

Dancers avoid dizziness when pirouetting by keeping their eyes locked on a fixed point and then whipping their head around quickly when they can’t twist their neck any further. Ice skating...

Butterflies and moths use their wings for many purposes: for flight, as mobile billboards to advertise how poisonous they are, and to create camouflage patterns. So you would expect them to be...

Beard hair is quite different to head hair; it is coarser, curlier and doesn't fall out as we get older. Comparatively little work has been done on the genetics of human hair colour, but it is...

All female mammals have a clitoris, the sole purpose of which is to react to sexual stimulation, and presumably this stimulation has evolved to be pleasurable for most species. But establishing...

To create a sound, we have to set matter - whether it's a gas like air, a liquid or even a solid material - in regular motion, creating a wave of specific frequencies, which we hear as a sound of...

Mirrors don’t reverse left and right either – that’s just our interpretation of what happens. Your reflection in the mirror is actually reversed front to back – if you have...

Discovered by an American student named Gary Flandro in the mid-1960s, the slingshot manoeuvre usually involves spacecraft briefly 'coat-tailing' a planet orbiting the Sun, extracting some of the...

The ice disappears because the wind blows away water molecules that have evaporated or 'sublimed' from the ice, so the ice slowly shrinks in size. The molecules that escape are those with the...

We use cookies to improve your experience of our website. Cookies perform functions like recognising you each time you visit and delivering advertising messages that are relevant to you. Read more here