Science Sunday: Jupiter’s Moon Houses Salty Ocean

Jupiter’s Moon Houses a Salty Ocean?

Using the Hubble Space Telescope, scientists have found that Ganymede, Jupiter’s moon, has a salt ocean with more water than the Earth. Scientists believe the ocean is 60 miles thick, which is about 10 times the depth of Earth’s oceans. If this doesn’t get Jules Verne-ians excited, I don’t know what will. In addition to pictures of the moon from Hubble, scientists have measure the magnetic field of the moon, which provides even stronger evidence of such a body of water underneath the surface potentially caused by Cryo-Volcanoes. What’s more,scientists are looking beyond Ganymede to Europa and Callisto as other icy moons with likely sources of water and, thus, the potential for life whether past or present.

But why, Trevor? Why should I care?

This means that our solar system is a wet place, where oceans and salt water are not confined to Earth, but rather, exist in abundance. If there are oceans on moons as well as Earth here in the Sol System, then it can be extrapolated that there are oceans on planets outside of our solar system. Generally, life as we know it requires water to survive. Going further, this could mean life on other planets or moons outside of our solar system.

In my opinion we would be silly to believe there is not life somewhere else in the universe, whether it exists presently, or at some point in the past or will exist at some time in the future. Astronomers estimate that there are more than 100 billion galaxies in the universe and our own galaxy, The Milky Way, is home to over 300 billion stars. Now, math is not my strong suit, but even I know that the odds are against being alone in the universe. Heck, maybe Jupiter’s moon Ganymede or another candidate within our Solar System will house some microbial life if nothing else.

What do you think? Are we alone? Or are there super-intelligent plant-people out there somewhere? Leave a response in the space below, the wackier the better.

Don’t forget to download a free copy of my Sci-Fi Thriller Symbiote, which deals with one possible form of life arriving on Earth via meteorite.

Science Sunday: Uber May Compete Against Google for Self-Driving Cars

Uber On The Move

This week Uber announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University researchers to develop an “Autonomous Taxi Fleet.”  Uber has been in the news a lot lately with controversy surrounding taxi companies and local ordinances that have ratcheted up taxes and fees on Uber drivers.  This play flies in the face of everything they’ve espoused so far.  Uber has built a following because it’s allowed unemployed or underemployed individuals make some extra cash on the side, some people even making a living being drivers.  However, getting into the autonomous car business wouldn’t immediately diminish their appeal in my opinion.  It will likely take years before they can even implement such a plan and once they do, they won’t immediately gain market share that threatens their own human drivers or those of taxi companies.  That said, withing 25 to 50 years I think almost all taxis will be autonomous.

Who remembers the “Johnny Cab,” from the beloved 1990 science fiction film Total Recall?  If not, check out this video:

I think the taxi cabs of the future will be a little more sophisticated than this, but for 25 years ago, it got a lot right.  If you want to go back further, Total Recall is based on the 1966 short story, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale,” by one of my favorite authors, Philip K. Dick.  While Johnny Cab might not have been in the short story, Philip K. Dick was one of those futurists who got a lot right. He was also known for his story which turned into the 2002 film of the same name, “Minority Report.

With autonomous vehicles a practical certainty at this point, I’m led to a point I’ve been thinking about for some time and which played a small role in some of my previous works.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 233,000 Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs in the United States alone.  This is only one area in which technology is shaping the future of jobs in the United States and the rest of the world.  If Uber and Google compete in the autonomous car business they will inevitably eat into these jobs, but replace them with more jobs for engineers and people to maintain the vehicle fleets. I think there will still be a net job loss, though, because the people who are driving the taxi cabs probably don’t have skills that translate to more technical work.

This is also being seen in banks, where there might only be one or two employees working in a branch with the rest being automated.  Is it a bad thing that we’re losing jobs that don’t require much training or technical skills? Maybe, but maybe not.  The world is getting more competitive every day, but I wonder what the job markets of the future will look like?  Will we all be repairing our robotic overlords until they can learn to repair themselves?  At that point they certainly wouldn’t need us anymore, as Elon Musk and several others have recently pointed out.  I’m going to approach this one with cautious optimism. It is likely that autonomous cars will drive down the cost of transportation, especially in big cities, and that will mean more people can afford to commute.  This would certainly be good for the overall job market.  Unless you are a Taxi driver that is.