Review of Space–Time–Matter: Cosmology, Particles and Waves in Five Dimensions by Paul S. Wesson & James M. Overduin

Phillip Helbig

The Observatory, 139, 1272, 223–225 (October 2019)


This is a book review of Space–Time–Matter: Cosmology, Particles and Waves in Five Dimensions by Paul S. Wesson & James M. Overduin. The first eight chapters had been essentially completed by Wesson before his death; the second author wrote a concluding chapter, which is a short summary, and a biographical appendix. Wesson was certainly an interesting character: from a working-class Nottingham background, he became a doctoral student of Martin Rees at Cambridge and had published 50 papers and a book by the time he was 30. After research trips to Canada before and after obtaining his doctorate, he spent some time in Norway, married a Norwegian woman, and became so proficient in Norwegian that he used it for his annotations of books and articles. In 1980, he became assistant professor at the University of Alberta; he was to stay in Canada for the rest of his life, moving to Waterloo in 1984. Wesson's science is, for most, probably more difficult to understand than his life. A five-dimensional extension to General Relativity (with a non-compact fourth spatial dimension) was the main topic of his career. For those who are already interested in Space–Time–Matter, the book is a good and well written overview of the work of Wesson and his collaborators. For those with a general interest in extensions of standard physics, accessibility is strongly dependent on the reader's technical background, though the good structure of the book and copious references (including many to work by more-mainstream physicists on related topics) make that possible for those willing to invest some time.


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