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By David Barnstone
Late in his career as a computer programmer for the US Department of Veterans Affairs, David Sward came across a book entitled The Trouble With Physics. He was intrigued by Lee Smolin’s critique of theoretical physics as well as his vision for its future.
“And the more books I read, the more I wanted to learn about a field that was attempting to explain the fundamentals of reality,” says Sward. “In the process I believe I’ve gained an appreciation for the efforts of all those who have chosen physics as their profession.”
After serving as an Aviation Electronics Technician in the Navy, Sward worked on a variety of software engineering projects at the VA.
“When I wrote code, I preferred using assembler because it put me close to the computer. Program execution was faster and the instructions were more direct as compared to other advanced languages. Perhaps that approach helped me to appreciate the efforts of physicists who were trying to get close to the fundamental laws of nature,” says Sward.
That appreciation led him to join the APS Legacy Circle, which recognizes donors who support the physics community through planned giving. Sward hopes his contributions will have a positive impact on the next generation of physicists and their discoveries that will benefit humanity.
He is particularly passionate about the APS Matching Membership Program, which makes the benefits of APS membership more accessible to physicists around the world, because the connections made between APS members are essential to the progress of physics.
“Read and learn from all those who have come before you,” says Sward. “Then build upon that knowledge to not only extend existing theorems but to develop new concepts. And don’t be afraid to put forth novel ideas. One of them could lead to an amazing breakthrough.”
Philanthropy is an important theme in Sward’s life. In addition to his generous support of physics, he and his wife volunteer for animal rescue groups and have adopted many cats and dogs.
“They make incredible friends and provide solace during times of stress.”
The author is APS Head of Public Relations.
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