Posts by Dimitris Hatzopoulos

1) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : UFO resources page (Message 36178)
Posted 6 Feb 2007 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
Well, I don't listen much to radio, much less US radio, but to quote Art Bell himself (from ABC TV channel Peter Jennings Special on UFOs): in the radioshow one can listen to "some of the most informed UFOlogists, some of the best scientists, and some of the craziest people you'll ever meet". So basically, guest quality varies very widely.

I have downloaded (from ED2K P2P) and listened to some of C2C radioshows with guests such as Michio Kaku (NYU), Friedman, Shostak (SETI), Greer, Bob Lazar and Corso and I'd describe him as a "non-confrontational radio host", not an "investigative reporter" who would confront his guest with hard questions.
2) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : UFO resources page (Message 36119)
Posted 4 Feb 2007 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
UFO's appear every day. Any object that appears to be flying but is not readily identifiable is a UFO to the observer.

Some people are happy to accept these aparitions as alien, some, me included, simply accept that the observer was not sufficiently qualified to identify the object/phenomenon.


Actually, the definition of UFO (as used by people interested in the subject) is:

"A UFO is the reported sighting of an object or light seen in the sky or on land, whose appearance, trajectory, motions, lights and colors do not have an obvious conventional or natural explanation, and which cannot be explained, not only by the original witness, but by scientists or technical experts who try to make a common sense identification after examining the evidence." -- Center for UFO Studies


BTW, Center for UFO Studies was established by astronomer Dr J Allen Hynek, the past Chairman of the Astronomy Department of Northwestern University. He served as the scientific consultant to US Air Force's official UFO investigation Project "Blue Book" and did field-investigations and talked to claimed UFO eye-witnesses for 21 years (between 1948-1969).

Unlike the "armchair theorists" who offer their opinions (and these mostly belong to the "skeptical side" in my experience).

PS: I think the page I've prepared (http://www.hyper.net/ufo.html) gives quite a bit of info on the UFO subject, for one to decide whether there is really something to it, or if it's all just a mix of misidentifications and hoaxes... Obviously reflects my own biases.
3) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : About the price of oil (Message 34553)
Posted 11 Jan 2007 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
Following up, the 14-Jul-2006 date of my previous post incidentally marked the high of crude oil and it has been falling since:



The primary reason for the drop isn't "warm weather" or "resolving of geopolitical tensions" etc, but like the uptrend again has to do with the players of the financial markets (investors), which exit their position once the trend changes.

In the previous months another trigger for the change in trend may also have had to do with GoldmanSachs (investment bank) re-balancing its GSCI commodity index (which is tracked by billions $$$ in "passive" commodity investment funds) which meant that they had to start "lighten up" investment position in the energy complex (much like when a stock enters/exits an index like Nasdaq100 or SP500, index tracking funds have to buy/sell it).

Coincidentally, the newly appointed US Treasury Secretary, Paulson, was the previous manager of GoldmanSachs (which runs this index) and they did the change a few months before the elections. A somewhat conspiratorial piece titled Friends in high places has more on this...

Right now the big fall in the last few days in 2007 is due to the quarterly redemptions of hedge funds (investors bail out), which in turn liquidate positions (i.e. sell "paper-oil" contracts).

PS: A similar situation as in oil above happened in nat.gas market in Sep-06 (due to the blow-up and forced liquidation of the Amaranth hedge fund which held big positions in nat.gas futures contracts) which drove natural gas price temporarily -50% (!!!) in a few weeks.
4) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : UFO resources page (Message 33559)
Posted 27 Dec 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
Actually SETI and UFO research are separate subjects and there is a bit of an "antagonism". Both SETI and UFOlogy agree that life exists outside of Earth, but with a crucial difference:

The premise of SETI is that the extra-terrestrials can't possibly be coming here (or else we would have seen them, there would be alien artifacts in science museums etc) and therefore we should try to eavesdrop, to survey the sky for possible transmissions from remote civilisations, to detect them.

UFOlogy (actually the branch which embraces the ETH) suggests that ETs are already here, i.e. that SOME UFOs are alien craft and that the Extra-Terrestrial Visitation (ETV) is the explanation for some of the over 100K reported UFO sightings over the past 50yr. And that the scientific community should take more interest in the subject.

Furthermore, SETI is presented as science, whereas UFO study as pseudo-science.

Most people, including many of those who participate in SETI@home, don't realise this difference (I didn't myself until a few months ago).
5) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : UFO resources page (Message 32933)
Posted 19 Dec 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
If you have an interest in the UFO subject, I think it'll save you a lot of time, which you'd otherwise spend trying to "separate the wheat from the chaff".
6) Message boards : Rosetta@home Science : Rosetta@home and World Community Grid (Message 32425)
Posted 10 Dec 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
I have a relevant part on this in my http://www.hyper.net/dc-howto.html page on DC projects. To quote Bonneau (head scientist for HPF/WCG) on "HPF or R@H" (19-Sep-05):

"How does the human proteome folding project (HPF) on the world community grid (WCG) relate to Rosetta@home?

[CASP6 Target T281] It is important to differentiate Rosetta@home from the HPF project (the one currently running on the WCG and grid.org), so I'll take a few lines to explain each from the perspective of motivation. The two grids HPF and Rosetta@home are not competing grids and we would like to see them both thrive.

Rosetta@home is run by the bakerlab as a way to accelerate development of the Rosetta code. With the focus on all-atom refinement and protein design even their benchmarks (to see if they broke the code or improved the code) are taking a large amount of time. Thus, Rosetta@home is primarily for testing/developing new versions of the Rosetta code and making Rosetta better. Also the robetta server could be hooked up to this project. This grid meets the spikes in the compute demands of the robetta server and the bakerlab. Rosetta@home does not aim to produce databases that will in turn be used by biologists but it helps to make the code better, which in turn helps efforts, like HPF, that use the code to give biologists usable fold and function predictions. In that way it is an essential part of the field-wide effort to fold proteomes.

Conversely, our project, HPF on the WCG, aims to use stable versions of Rosetta to make predictions that can be presented to biologists and biomedical researchers in comprehensive databases with intuitive front ends. HPF on the WCG can be thought of as the production phase of the project, where we produce function annotation for many genomes and then distribute this product to biologists. Due to the large number of proteins we're folding (comprehension is essential) we need a great deal of computer time if we want to make our databases comprehensive and availiable to biologists.

We are working with the bakerlab on HPF on the WCG and think of the two grids as very different parts of the solution of getting function out of fold prediction: one using Rosetta and one improving Rosetta (D Baker is involved in both projects)."


Btw, nowadays Rosetta@home isn't just building the tools (Rosetta sw) but also applying them (e.g. vaccines).

There has also been some concerns on HPF usefulness at grid.org's forums in the past.

Personally, I was a bit disappointed with technical aspects of WCG (not HPF which is one of WCG's 3 projects) because they ran it at too high initial replication, didn't compress data at all (under BOINC) etc. Maybe they've fixed things recently.
7) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : UFO resources page (Message 32376)
Posted 10 Dec 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
At http://www.hyper.net/ufo.html I've prepared a collection of the best UFO sites, photo and video galleries, TV documentaries, books, papers, research studies, possible UFO physics/science, declassified document archives etc.

The "truth" really is "out there", but you do have to seek and persist through a mountain of nonsense.

I hope the abovementioned page will be helpful in that regard.
8) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : Off-topic anyone? (Message 31947)
Posted 2 Dec 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
UFO have recently landed in the UK


Since you mentioned it, last month I've prepared a Web-page with a collection of (IMHO) the best UFO resources at:

http://www.hyper.net/ufo.html

There is a lot of info (much of it junk) out there and I've only been reading about the UFO subject the last 3 months (but rather intensively).

Regards, Dimitris
9) Message boards : Number crunching : Dr. Baker receives $10m+ grant for Rosetta HIV research! (Message 20818)
Posted 21 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
In case Dr Baker's last comment "our efforts to develop new proteins to target genes causing cancer. in fact, Jim Havranak in my group has just had very exciting results on engineering an endonuclease to cut within a human disease gene." isn't quite clear for those of us who are not familiar with their science, here's a more elaborate description of Rosetta's recent work applicable to cancer (from 1-Jun-06 edition of Nature):


Protein engineering: OK Computer (pp 656-659)

One of the great remaining problems in computational protein design involves the redesign of a DNA-modifying protein so that it recognizes, and alters, a new DNA sequence. For example, changing the specificity of a nuclease a protein that cuts DNA at a specific site could be beneficial for a range of biotechnological and medical applications.
In this week's Nature, David Baker and colleagues have shown that it is possible to modify the sequence specificity of a "homing endonuclease" called I-MsoI. They used a computational approach to screen a virtual library of mutant proteins and predicted which amino acids needed to be changed to re-engineer this enzyme so that it recognized, and cleaved, a new DNA sequence. The mutant protein was highly active and was able to cleave the new DNA sequence, but did not modify the original sequence. The authors hope to redesign this and other DNA-modifying enzymes to alter a range of DNA sequences, so that they could specifically target almost any sequence in the genome. These computationally designed proteins may be useful in a range of medical and biotechnological applications, including gene therapeutic and other targeted genomics applications.

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v441/n7093/index.html

Nature Editor's Summary

1 June 2006
Design for living

Altering the specificity of DNA-cleaving enzymes could be useful in many medical or biotechnological applications, but it is quite a challenge in terms of computational protein design. Ashwell et al. have used computational redesign to alter the target-site specificity of the I-MsoI homing endonuclease, while maintaining wild-type binding affinity. The redesigned enzyme binds and cleaves the new DNA recognition site about 10,000 times more effectively than the wild-type enzyme, with target discrimination comparable to the original endonuclease. These results suggest that computational protein design methods can be used to create novel and highly specific endonucleases for gene therapy and other applications.
Letter: Computational redesign of endonuclease DNA binding and cleavage specificity

Justin Ashworth, James J. Havranek, Carlos M. Duarte, Django Sussman, Raymond J. Monnat, Jr, Barry L. Stoddard and David Baker

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v441/n7093/edsumm/e060601-14.html
10) Message boards : Number crunching : Dr. Baker receives $10m+ grant for Rosetta HIV research! (Message 20738)
Posted 20 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
I think R's cancer-related approach was mostly focused on "gene therapy" kind of stuff, e.g. altering/creating DNA-modifying enzymes to repair damaged DNA

The other, "traditional" approach would be to help in "virtual screening" of drugs (like CureCancer approach) by

1/ identifying target proteins (protein structure prediction)
2/ "docking" (i.e. use Rosetta.exe instead of DOCK, AutoDOCK, THINK, LigandFit etc)
11) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : Joke Thread... (Message 20274)
Posted 15 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
Government contracting

Three contractors are bidding to fix the White House fence. One from
Chicago, another from Kentucky and the third, Florida. They go with a
White House official to examine the fence.

The Florida contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring,
then works some figures with a pencil. "Well," he says. "I figure the
job will run about $900: $400 for materials, $400 for my crew and $100
profit for me."

The Kentucky contractor also does some measuring and figuring, then
says, "I can do this job for $700: $300 for materials, $300 for my crew
and $100 profit for me."

The Chicago contractor doesn't measure or figure, but leans over to
the White House official and whispers: "$2,700."

The official, incredulous, says, "You didn't even measure like the other
guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?"

"Easy," the Chicagoan explains, "$1,000 for you, $1,000 for me and we
hire the guy from Kentucky."

---
A "local" version of this joke is with looking for test pilots to fly an experimental new aircraft for the 1st time. German pilot asks for $1m to fly it, French pilot $2m and the Greek pilot says to the official "$3million: $1m for you, $1m for me and $1m for the German to fly it".
12) Message boards : Number crunching : Can I force BOINC to report results? (Message 20261)
Posted 15 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
As Jose wrote, click "update".

Anyway, BOINC doesn't wait 2 weeks until WU deadline to report completed WUs, but it limits frequency of connections to the BOINC server(s) to the interval you define (in your user profile).

If you set it to e.g. 0.1days, then your BOINC client will connect to Rosetta@home's BOINC server every ~2hr to upload done WUs and download new WUs.

But you can force a connection anytime, hitting "update".
13) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : Joke Thread... (Message 20217)
Posted 14 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
A priest and a rabbi were standing by the side of the road with a sign reading, "THE END IS NEAR! Turn yourself around now before it's too late!"

"Leave us alone, you religious nuts!" a driver yelled, stomping on the gas to crash through the sign, blowing it to pieces.

From around the curve, the two men of God heard screeching tires and a big splash.

The rabbi turns to the priest and asks, "Do you think the next one we make should just say, 'Bridge Out'?"
14) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : About the price of oil (Message 20185)
Posted 14 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
As crude oil price in NYMEX (New York Merc) Sep-06 traded over $80/barrel earlier today, which will cause more financial hardship to millions of people, you need to keep in mind that this entire "energy crisis" has been ENGINEERED, FABRICATED from A to Z in the derivatives markets of NY and London.

Here's something that I meant to send, but wanted to check archives to make sure it had actually been said (and was not some kind of "urban legend"):

‘‘Leon Hess, whose oil company made more than $200 million by trading oil futures during the Persian Gulf crisis ... said he longs for the days when oil company barons could get together and decide prices and supply levels largely among themselves, rather than depending on the violent price swings created by traders who react to rumors and headlines.
‘‘‘I’m an old man, but I’d bet my life that if the Merc [New York Mercantile Exchange] was not in operation there would be ample oil and reasonable prices all over the world, without this volatility,’ Hess said at a hearing the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs held on the role of futures markets in oil pricing.’’ —‘‘Oil Baron Longs for Past, Not Futures,’’ Newsday, November 2, 1990

15) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : About the price of oil (Message 20044)
Posted 11 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
I've tried to explain the crude oil pricing mechanism as best as I could and why I think it's broken. I'm not sure if I was able to make things clear enough.

A very good description of the flaws of the current pricing system of crude oil comes from Robert Mabro (a scholar and highly regarded consultant with 3+ decades of experience in the oil market, now retired). He explained the issues in his 2000 article:

http://www.oxfordenergy.org/comment.php?0008

which I think is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the oil market (I've linked to it in the 1st post in this thread). Btw the situation back then (1998, 2000) was much less acute than today.

Here's an extract from the abovementioned article:

"As mentioned before, because of the lack of good information on production, stocks and demand, what rules the market is the consensus view about these numbers rather than the actual situation. This has an important implication for OPEC. When OPEC has to decide on a production policy in order to reverse a price fall as in 1998 and March 1999, it is obliged to reduce production by the volume demanded by traders and not by the amount required to restore the supply/demand balance. And the market has a tendency to believe in myths, such as the myth of the `missing barrels' in 1998. In that year OPEC, together with Mexico and Norway, reduced oil production twice (in March and June) to no avail. The oil price continued to fall. The market did not believe that the reductions were large enough. In March 1999 OPEC cut production by the large amount demanded by the market. This turned out to be too much as evidenced by the relentless price increase that followed throughout that year.

It is nice to say that markets should rule. The statement is however meaningless and indeed dangerous in its implications if one does not specify which market, and the conditions that qualify a market to rule. The oil futures markets as they exist today and for the reasons mentioned earlier on do not qualify. Yet, OPEC has to follow their whims to influence the course of oil prices and this seems to be an important cause of high volatility."


Mabro's CV, Awards (by OPEC, the Queen etc :-). He published several books and articles on the oil markets.

"In December 1991 Mr Mabro was awarded the International Association for Energy Economics 1990 Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Profession of Energy Economics and to its Literature.

In December 1995 he was awarded a CBE by HM the Queen in the New Year's Honours List. In 1997 the President of Mexico awarded him the medal of the Mexican Order of Aguila Azteca and in 2000 the President of Venezuela awarded the medal of Francisco Miranda, and in 2001 was promoted Officier des Palmes Academiques (France).

In 2004 he received the first OPEC award for contribution to oil studies."


PS: Mabro is retired. I don't know why more people in the oil industry don't speak up CLEARLY about this subject, considering the economic damage inflicted upon consuming nations ... (they do speak, e.g. Leo Drollas http://boinc.bakerlab.org/rosetta/forum_thread.php?id=1707#19322 but it's not always clear what the cause and effect is)
16) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : About the price of oil (Message 20017)
Posted 10 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
Since there's so often misinformation, here are the latest numbers on crude oil inventories ("stockpiles" or "stocks"), at highest levels in over a decade (and 20yr highs for OECD countries). These are the "commercial" inventories at ~350million barrels, not counting the ~700 million barrels in US SPR (Strategic Petroleum Reserve).



combined with US SPR, they're at the highest level ever.

Also, much higher than "normal" levels for this time of year (from DoE website):

Crude oil inventories


And gasoline inventories


source: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/oog/info/twip/twip_crude.html

IMHO this data is basically irrelevant, as the issue here is a cornered financial market, but just in case you want to watch the "funnymentals".
17) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : About the price of oil (Message 20016)
Posted 10 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
StuderSL, Saudis also seem to think that refining is the problem:

PWR-SAUDI-SCPMA-OIL
Saudi Arabia attributes oil prices hike to lack of advanced refining capacities

RIYADH, July 2 (KUNA) -- Saudi Arabia attributed on Sunday the current hike in oil prices to the lack of advanced refining capacities, not shortage in supplies of crude oil.

According to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Secretary-General of Saudi Arabia's Supreme Council for Petroleum and Mineral Affairs (SCPMA) Dr. Mutalib Al-Nafisa said the council held a meeting today that included reviewing the oil market's current status in light of the fluctuation in prices that do not serve oil producing or consuming nations.

The council expressed comfort with the current balance between supply and demand with the availability of surpluses that are the highest for quite few years, he added.

The meeting, headed by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, approved a national petroleum strategy for 2006 to ensure the market's stability on the short and long terms.

The strategy includes increasing Saudi Arabia's production capacity to meet anticipated international supply and demand, as well as boosting refining capacity by establishing refineries capable of refining heavy crude oils, boosting the oil market's transparency and encouraging the development of international oil industries. (end)


Now, I know that saying "crude is up because of refinery bottlenecks" sounds the same as saying "the price of wheat is up because of bakery problems/bottlenecks" because in fact a refinery bottleneck would increase the price of one type of e.g. light sweet crude and create a glut of another type e.g. heavy sour crude oil.

Which it has (created a glut of other types) so we read that SA, Iran etc can't find buyers for all their oil anymore. Btw that oil had real buyers in the past (which proves there's some demand destruction, due to high prices).
18) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : Contemporary issues in economics, politics (Message 20015)
Posted 10 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
I'm setting up this topic (as spin-off of the topic on the oil price) for discussing issues about the economy (and politics where it can't be avoided, as often the two are intertwined).

19) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : Joke Thread... (Message 19902)
Posted 7 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
Stockmarket joke

A minister dies and is waiting in line at the Pearly Gates. Ahead of him is a guy who's dressed in sunglasses, a loud shirt, leather jacket, and jeans.

Saint Peter addresses this guy, "Who are you, so that I may know whether or not to admit you to the Kingdom of Heaven?"

The guy replies, "I'm Joe Cohen, stockbroker, of Noo Yawk City."

Saint Peter consults his list. He smiles and says to the stockbroker, "Take this silken robe and golden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

The stockbroker goes into Heaven with his robe and staff, and it's the minister's turn. He stands erect and booms out, "I am Joseph Snow, pastor of Saint Mary's for the last forty-three years."

Saint Peter consults his list. He says to the minister, "Take this cotton robe and wooden staff and enter the Kingdom of Heaven."

"Just a minute," says the minister. "That man was a stockbroker-- he gets a silken robe and golden staff but I, a minister, only get a cotton robe and wooden staff? How can this be?"

"Up here, we work by results," says Saint Peter. "While you preached, people slept; his clients, they prayed."
20) Message boards : Cafe Rosetta : Joke Thread... (Message 19901)
Posted 7 Jul 2006 by Profile Dimitris Hatzopoulos
Post:
Supposedly (per LaughLab international competition) the two most popular jokes:

http://www.laughlab.co.uk/winner.html

#1
A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground. He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator: “My friend is dead! What can I do?” The operator, in a calm soothing voice says: “Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead.” There is a silence, then a shot is heard. The guy's voice comes back on the line. He says: “OK, now what?"

---

#2
Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson go on a camping trip. After a good dinner and a bottle of wine, they retire for the night, and go to sleep.
Some hours later, Holmes wakes up and nudges his faithful friend. "Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see."
"I see millions and millions of stars, Holmes" replies Watson.
"And what do you deduce from that?"
Watson ponders for a minute.
"Well, astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically, I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful, and that we are a small and insignificant part of the universe. What does it tell you, Holmes?"
Holmes is silent for a moment. "Watson, you idiot!" he says. "Someone has stolen our tent!"


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