My favor people:
The following people have been influential in my philosophical and professional development. I wish to thank them publically. Unfortunately, most of them are not alive today.
1. Jesus Christ for my spiritual beliefs.
2. Socrates and Plato for my philosophical education.
3. My late parents: my mother Eugenia and my father Demetrios Panagiotacopulos.
They gave me everything they had. Namely, love, support, and taught me to be responsible, caring, and helpful to others. I owe them everything.
4. My late brother Gerassimos, a true math wizard, had a very profound effect in my life. He was a model, and an inspiration for me. While he was at high school, he was winner of a prestigious Greek Mathematical Society Award, a top honor graduate from POLYTECHNION, the well known Technical University of Athens, and a General in the Engineering branch of the Greek army, he died at the age of 53 from a heart attack.
5. My wife Aliki, who gave me a gift when I was 17 years old. The gift was a series of books translated from English to Greek. These books were about the adventures of a young Scottish Medical Doctor, who later became a famous novelist. His name was A. J. CRONIN (for details go to INTERNET and search for A. J. Cronin). I was influenced by his writings and his dedication to help people using his medical talents.
6. My very good friend, the late Constantinos Gianopoulos, a mathematician educated in Greece and in Germany. Dr.Gianopoulos was a student of Constantinos Caratheodory (a famous mathematician), who became Director of the famous Gottingen Mathematishe Institute sometime during the 1920s or 1930s, and later a Professor of mathematics at the University of Munich (for details go to INTERNET). Dr. Gianopoulos was also a student of the famous theoretical physicist Arnold Sommerfeld. Dr. Gianopoulos came to Greece to apply for a Professorship at the University of Athens. Unfortunately, jealousy and a corrupted academic system never let him be a Professor at that University. Dr. Gianopoulos, was my neighbor in Athens and informally introduced me to the usefulness of applied mathematics. I learn from him most of the things I know today about applied mathematics. A fantastic man that Greece never used for the education of the young and talented Greeks in that field. He died in Greece sometime in the 1990s.I was fortunate to see him in a hospital in Athens, few days before he died, while I was on vacation in Greece. His son informed me about his deteriorating health, but when I arrived at the hospital he was in a coma. He could not see or talk, he was in a vegetation state. I took his hand in my own hand and talk to him about the old days, about his Ph.D.dissertation (which I still have here in Pasadena), and about Professor Sommerfeld. For a moment he was revived and tried to say something, I guess that he understood that I was there, but he went to coma again, and few days later he died.
7. A decade earlier (December 1984), another Professor of mine, also a student of C. Caratheodory, died in Germany. His name was Demetrios Kappos. Professor Kappos left his legacy in the Greek world of mathematics by reforming the entire way of teaching advanced mathematics in Greece. He was a man of enormous personality and charm. I also owe to him a lot.
In a way, because of Drs. Gianopoulos and Kappos, I feel that I was a student of Caratheodory too. That is why in my personal library, C. Catatheodory’s books are placed in a prominent place
8. The late Dr.Gerassimos Legatos, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Athens, known among the students as “the teacher”, was a model of organization and teaching style.
9. Another person I owe a lot is, the late Professor Jean Smoldren, of the Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI) and the University of Liege, Belgium. A true genius who introduced me to the difficult field of Kinetic Theory of Gasses. I worked for him for two years, and it was through him that I was lucky to meet the famous Dr. Theodore Von Karman (the father of aeronautical engineering). Dr. Von Karman, at that time, was Professor of Aeronautics at the famous California Institute of Technology (CALTECH). During 1960, Dr.Von Karman was interested to utilize wind energy (in the Greek islands) and convert the wind energy into electrical energy, using windmills. That is how I was involved in windmill design for a short time. In addition, Dr.Von Karman was influential in my coming to study at CALTECH.
10. After I came to CALTECH, I was lucky to meet a number of distinguished scientists and engineers such as: the Physics Novelist Dr. R. Feynman, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Director Dr. William Pickering (famous for leading the unmanned space program, who became my friend and supporter for more than 10 years.
In CALTECH, I was also lucky to meet: (i) Dr. Yannis Xenakis (when he was invited to give a seminar about his music), (ii).Saul Below, the Nobel winner in Literature, and (iii) to talk to Dr. Linus Pauling, the twice Nobel prize winner (for discovering vitamin C, and for Peace).
11. Furthermore, I had the good luck to meet the late Dr. Frank Goddard, JPL’s Assistant laboratory Director, and Mrs. Irene Goddard. Frank, after an intensive 3 hour interview, hired me at (JPL). I thank him for this opportunity, and remember him and Irene with great affection.
12. Mr. Pete Brecheimer of JPL, for his unlimited support, vision and trust. Thanks to Peter, my time at JPL, was one of the most creative periods of my professional life.
13. Professor Wolfgang Knauss of CALTECH ‘s department of Aeronautics, for listening to me, and for giving me the opportunity to do research on biomechanics at CALTECH. Dr. Knauss, introduced me to the world of experimental work and was a superior technical advisor during the period of my biomedical research involvement. He was also a very courageous man, because he trusted an unknown mathematician (me), to carry out a difficult experimental work on a new idea and in a field which was in its infancy.
14. Dr. Leon Kazarian of AFOSR, for his financial support and inspiring technical discussions in biomechanics.
15. My friend Dr. Ricardo Bloch, who taught me viscoelasticity and help me in my experimental work in biomechanics when I was at CALTECH.
16. My Professor Pierre Halleux of the Free University of Brussels (ULB), Head of the Biomechanics group at ULB, for his encouragement and support in my biomedical research.
17. My good friend and colleague, Baron and Professor Dr. Malcolm Pope of Scotland’s Aberdeen University, for his warm friendship and creative collaboration.
18. The late: (i) Dr. Harry Lass, a Senior Member of the Technical Staff at JPL, and a very rare kind of genius mathematician, and (ii) the late Dr.Rand Georgevich also JPL, for motivating and inspiring discussions in the field of physics and mathematics.
19. The late Professor Roger Broucke, of JPL and of the University of Texas at Austin. Roger and I carried out a number of numerical scientific explorations in Celestial Mechanics, relativity theory, the Stoermer problem, Symbolic manipulations on a computer, etc. These interactions influenced a lot my scientific thinking. Roger was a great guy and a good friend. Roger was a gentleman and a scholar. He died in June 2005.
20. Later on, two famous people were added to my list: the co-winners of the Nobel prize in medicine, Sir G. Hounsfeld, and Professor Allan Cormack. They both discover Computerized Axial Tomography or CAT as we know it today. Both of them excited my mind in such a way that I worked in this field since 1976. Dr. Cormack later on became a friend and visited my University to give seminars on Tomography.
21. Dr. Robert Nathan of JPL, was the Space application father of Digital Image Processing, was also influential for my interest in the field of Digital Image Processing.
22. Another personal friend, and visionary man, who believed on me, offered me the opportunity to be involved in academia, and gave me his unlimited support was my best friend Dr. Timothy Jordanides. I feel very privileged to be his friend.
23. My late Ph.D. student Ken Friesen. I was his Ph.D. advisor and his teacher, but I was not as talented as he was. I learned from him a lot, and I cherished his memory with great affection. He died two weeks before he was scheduled to defend his Ph.D. dissertation. I promised to him to finish up the writing of his thesis. However, I had not kept my promise, since I had two heart attacks and 4 surgeries shortly after his death, and because he left his writing scattered here and there, and required a rather great deal of effort, to find were he kept the details of his research. His research topic was on: “Further improvements on the gravity field of the moon”.
24. My nephew, Demetrios G. Panayotakopoulos, an architect and a computer wizard. Demetrios, has been my most reliable and most capable computer consultant for many years.
25. My friend, the late Professor Charalambos (Roko) Aliprantis, a CALTECH graduate, a distinguished mathematician and economist who authored more than 15 successful books in pure mathematics and economics, several hundreds of publications, and was the creator and chief editor of two major journals in the fields of mathematical economics. For me, he was an example of a highly devoted scientist of the greatest caliber.
26. My friend, the world renown operatic and cross over performer Mario Frangoulis, whose unique voice and music had a healing effect on me in one of the most difficult periods of my life.
27. Colonel Steve (Spyro) Pisanos, USAF. An inspiring War II hero a famous aviator and an ace. Steve is the writer of one of the most inspiring books (The Flying Greek) I ever read.
At this point, I wish to honor the memory of my beloved animals : Ralph, Christa, Ceasar, Stad, Cassey, and Areal. These dogs taught me more things than anyone can imagine. I thank them for that. A very special thanks goes to Stad, who is responsible for my conversion to vegetarianism. Vegetarianism, not only saved my life but changed my entire way of thinking about animals.
Currently, I have a dog named Valentino, and a male cat named Blackie. They are my friends, and an inspiration for my passionate involvement with animal issues.
My favor Books:
1. The Bible
2. Plato’s “The Republic”
3. Adventures in two words, By A. Cronin
4. The Castle, By A. Cronin
5. The flying Greek, By S. Pisanos
6. Animals Sanctified: A Spiritual Journey, By Joanne Stefanatos, D.V.M.
7. The case for Vegetarianism, Philosophy for a small planet, By John Lawrence Hill