J. C. Ward

John Clive Ward, FRS

John Clive Ward is perhaps one of the most brilliant british physicists of the post war era. A contributor to the Standard Model and the creator of the famed Ward Identities his name can be found in a large number of books dealing with theoretical and particle physics.

In addition to his profound influence in field theory he has made significant and fundamental contributions to quantum mechanics, quantum electrodynamics, and elementary particle physics. However, it is interesting to note that his contributions have not yet received the widespread recognition they deserve. It has been said that for decades physicists have made use of his principles and developments "often without knowing it, and generally without quoting him."

Oxford educated, John Ward arrived to Australia in 1967, via Princeton and Johns Hopkins, and played a major role in creating a high-class physics program at Macquarie University . This physics curriculum was based on the now famous Feynman Lectures on Physics and included a superb experimental physics program. Under his influence the foundations of a Macquarie physics education became a combination of courses in electromagnetism, quantum physics, solid state physics, and advanced electronics, in addition to applied mathematics such as Fourier theory and differential equations. At Macquarie he became known for his forceful defense of science, high academic standards, and for his uncompromising honesty. In this regard, he openly supported the student movement that permanently changed the degree structure of the university. This innovation strengthened significantly the sciences at Macquarie.

Although himself a superb and gifted theoretician John Ward has always held a deep rooted respect for experimental physics and engineering. This well balanced and utilitarian philosophy was well reflected in the nature of the Macquarie physics degree.

John Ward is a Fellow of the Royal Society and his contributions to theoretical physics have inspired respect and admiration among his most illustrious peers. For his work on quantum electrodynamics Sakharov classified him as one of the great physicists of our times alongside Feynman, Schwinger, and Tomonaga. In 1988 one of his former students met Julian Schwinger at a conference reception in Lake Tahoe. Once Schwinger knew that the young physicist was from Macquarie, he smiled and immediately proceeded to focus the conversation on one topic alone...... John Ward.

In an informative and interesting magazine article he was described as a "restrained rather distant Englishman." Distance apart, he is the epitome of a physicist and a scholar.....a man who has exerted a distinct influence in the education of those physicists who have come to know him. An accomplished piano, and french horn player, today he lives in Vancouver, Canada, and spends his time working on his physics and traveling to places like Europe, Mexico, and the south of South America.



The Ward Identities

It is now 50 years since Physical Review published a succinct and profound master piece authored by John C. Ward entitled An identity in quantum electrodynamics. Building on previous work by Dyson this brief and elegant letter proved in seven steps one of the most important and celebrated results of renormalization theory in quantum electrodynamics.


Page published on the 13th of April, 1998.

Updated on the 13th of February, 2000.