John Clive Ward bigraphy, stories - British-Australian nuclear physicist

John Clive Ward : biography

1 August 1924 - 6 May 2000

John Clive Ward (August 1, 1924 – May 6, 2000) was a British-Australian physicist. His most famous creation was the Ward-Takahashi identity, originally known as "Ward Identity" (or "Ward Identities").J. C. Ward, An identity in quantum electrodynamics, Phys. Rev. 78, 182 (1950). This celebrated result, in quantum electrodynamics, was inspired by a conjecture of DysonF. J. Dyson, The S matrix in quantum electrodynamics, Phys. Rev. 75, 1736-1755 (1949). and was disclosed in a one-half page letter typical of Ward's succinct style. In their recent book entitled Quantum Electrodynamics, Greiner and Reinhardt state in their discussion of charge renormalization: "Yet the Ward Identity has a much more fundamental significance: it ensures the universality of the electromagnetic interaction."W. Greiner and J, Reinhardt, Quantum Electrodynamics, 4th Ed. (Springer, Berlin, 2009).

Andrei Sakharov classified Ward as one of the "titans" of quantum electrodynamics alongside Dyson, Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga.A. Sakharov, Memoirs (Knopf, New York, 1990). In this regard, it has been said that physicists have made use of his principles and developments "often without knowing it, and generally without quoting him."M. Dunhill, Professor John Clive Ward, in The Merton Record (Oxford University, Oxford, 1995).

Macquarie University

After World War II, Ward worked in several places in the United States and eventually he moved to Sydney, Australia, via New Zealand. In 1964 he created the physics program of Macquarie University using the Feynman Lectures on Physics as primary textbooks. This program had a strong experimental emphasis and Ward himself (who originally was trained as an engineer) "had great admiration for anything practical".. Also, Ward regarded physics as a vocation rather than a profession.

In the late 1970s Ward participated, with Frank Duarte, in the successful Macquarie science reform movement.B. Mansfield and M. Hutchinson, Liberality of Opportunity: A history of Macquarie University 1964-1989 (Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1992).J. C. Ward, Memoirs of a Theoretical Physicist (Optics Journal, Rochester, New York, 2004) Chapter 13. and considered this a "most important accomplishment".


Ward's total number of published papers was only about 20, a fact that reflects a strong sense of self-criticism. He was also critical of what he called "PhD factories" and expressed skepticism towards the importance being attached to large number of citations. Ward's "directness and frankness often got him at odds with managers and administrators."

Besides his physics, Ward was an accomplished pianist and French horn player. Although a bachelor most of his life, he was briefly married while in the US. While in Sydney, he lived at 10 Fern Street, in the northern suburb of Pymble. He has an Erdős number of 2.

After death

In immediate correspondence following his death, Willis E. Lamb wrote "I greatly admired him and his work... I hope our paths cross again." Philip Anderson highlighted Ward's contribution to the Standard Model while indicating that he had communicated his passing to Freeman Dyson. Ward's succinct unfinished memoirs were published in 2004.J. C. Ward, Memoirs of a Theoretical Physicist (Optics Journal, Rochester, New York, 2004).

Additional contributions

Ward's probability amplitude for quantum entanglement

In a 1947 paper, published in NatureM. H. L. Pryce and J. C. Ward, Angular correlation effects with annihilation radiation, Nature 160, 435 (1947). (with Maurice Pryce), Ward was the first to calculate, and use, the probability amplitudes for the polarization of two entangled photons moving in opposite directions.F. J. Duarte, The origin of quantum entanglement experiments based on polarization measurements, Euro. Phys. J. H 37, 311-318 (2012). For polarizations x and y, Ward derived this probability amplitude to beJ. C. Ward, Some Properties of Elementary Particles (D. Phil. Thesis, Oxford University, 1949).

Living octopus

Living octopus

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