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.

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