Sam Kitchener

Where’s Waldy?

The Lost Time Accidents

By John Wray

Canongate 490pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Albert Michelson and Edward Morley’s 1887 investigation into the qualities of ‘luminiferous aether’, the medium through which light was popularly supposed to move, was, according to Waldy Tolliver, the narrator of John Wray’s mad but brilliant fourth novel, ‘the most spectacular failure in scientific history’. They assumed that the speed of light would vary according to the speed at which it was observed; their experiment instead proved that light always moved at near enough the same speed. Not only did this accidental discovery tell them nothing about the qualities of ‘luminiferous aether’, it also undermined the fundamental tenets of Newtonian mechanics. If the speed of light was constant, one or both of space and time couldn’t be.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'If there is a god, nature is the breath of it and art ... is its messenger.' Jan Morris contemplates Wordsworth ,
    • Weekend read 2: Take inspiration from Jonathan Meades's 'anti'-recipes and 'serve up a treat' this Sunday ,
    • If you're at , starting tomorrow, there are free copies of Literary Review for festival attendees. Grab while stocks last!,
    • Weekend read 1: 'The fiery meteor that was Victor Grayson', as presented in David Clark's biography ,
    • We’re offering the chance to win a copy of I Am Not Your Negro. You can find all the information in our newsletter: ,
    • Stephen Bates reviews Richard Ingrams's biography of Ludovic Kennedy ,
    • RT : Pls enjoy my interview about the Bad Sex Awards w @Lit_Review-"My body was her gearstick" & "his bulbous salutation" ,