Why is Antartica white?

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The advertisement asked "Ever wondered why Antartica looks so clean and white? It went on to suggest that it was because there were enzymes there. I argued that it was white for other reasons.

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Dear Sir,

I am writing in response to your Drive "Ever wondered why Antarctica looks so clean and white?" advertisement. In this advertisement you suggest that the answer is enzymes.

I take a contrary view.

Antarctica is white because my sons have never been there.

Just a brief visit to their rooms will confirm this. New life forms evolve, mature, decline and ultimately perish in those rooms. Plants, insects, animals, even geological formations. Several things I saw one Saturday afternoon rated a mention in the Book of Revelations.

But that does not mean that the rooms are devoid of enzymes. Enzymes are an integral part of the primordial soup that sloshes gently around beneath the beds. There are many of the enzymes that you will be familiar with: protease, amylase, amyloglucosidase, phosphatase . They are all there.

None of which seem to have had the slightest effect on the cleanliness, white or otherwise, of the rooms. And certainly not the bottom of the school bags.

Some of the other enzymes that have evolved in there would excite the most sober enzymologist and certainly frighten the odd apocalypse fearing creationist. Amongst these enzymes you will find the sleep inducing stillhelase, the high wattage enzyme, noiseheplase, and the lament-inducing enzyme howlongtiltheholidase.

Enzymes we have a plenty. But whiteness, lightness and brightness? No, not by a long shot.

Do you want to reconsider your advertisement?

Yours white, but mostly from fear,

J. Cosmo Newbery.



The people at Lever-Rexona were very good about it and suggested that the secret was to use that most alien of four-letter words to a young boy - WASH - and sent me a complimentary sample to try. I replied:

Thank you for your reply to my letter expressing doubts regarding the cause of the whiteness of Antarctica.

And thank you for the two boxes of you-beaut-enzyme-enhanced Drive.

I am a less appreciative of your suggestion that I mention the word WASH to les enfants Newbery. Usually I am a little more cautious and I would never have done such a thing without taking suitable precautions.

Shin pads and a fencer's mask would be a bare minimum. Leather gloves help.

A better idea would be to e-mail them. Preferably at school.

Certainly using such inflammatory language is a risky business (actually a specific exclusion in my life assurance policy) and I must have just been a bit tired and was caught off-guard. I had said it before I really thought about it.

It took all afternoon to restore order to the family room. We have yet to find the cat.

But thank you once again for the Drive; it has been passed onto Mrs Newbery for trials in the laundry. She is certainly happy. If it performs well I have promised her a couple of new rocks.