Physics in Perspective

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 390–405 | Cite as

Klein, Einstein, and Five-Dimensional Unification


I examine the changing attitudes of Oskar Klein (1894–1977) and Albert Einstein (1879–1955) toward the notion of extending general relativity by an extra dimension with the aim of encompassing electromagnetism and gravitation in a unified field theory. I show how Klein developed his model of five-dimensional unification with the goal of explaining the discreteness of atomic energy levels, and how Einstein later embraced that goal. By examining the correspondence between Klein and Einstein, some of which was relayed through Paul Ehrenfest (1880–1933), I speculate that Klein’s work helped motivate Einstein to explore deterministic five-dimensional theories as a potential alternative to probabilistic quantum mechanics. Finally, I consider the contributions of Wolfgang Pauli (1900–1958) to the subject and elucidate his role in convincing Klein and Einstein that their models were not viable.


Oskar Klein Theodor Kaluza Albert Einstein Paul Ehrenfest Wolfgang Pauli Kaluza-Klein theory unified field theories 


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Copyright information

© Birkhaueser 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Mathematics, Physics and Computer ScienceUniversity of the Sciences in PhiladelphiaPhiladelphiaUSA

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