The Dixmier problem, lamplighters and Burnside groups
J.Dixmier asked in 1950 whether every non-amenable group admits uniformly bounded representations that cannot be unitarised. We provide such representations upon passing to extensions by abelian groups. This gives a new characterisation of amenability. Furthermore, we deduce that certain Burnside groups are non-unitarisable, answering a question raised by G. Pisier.