This series consists of talks in the areas of Cosmology, Gravitation and Particle Physics.
We suggest here a mechanism for the seeding of the primordial density fluctuations. We point out that a process like reheating at the end of inflation will inevitably generate perturbations, even on superhorizon scales, by the local diffusion of energy. Provided that the final temperature is of order the GUT scale, the density contrast $\delta_R$ for spheres of radius $R$ will be of order $10^{-5}$ at horizon entry, consistent with the values measured by \texttt{WMAP}.
The black body nature of the first acoustic peak of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) was tested using foreground reduced WMAP 5-year data, by producing subtraction maps between pairs of cosmological bands, viz. the Q, V, and W bands, for masked sky areas that avoid the Galactic disk. The resulting maps revealed a non black body signal that has three main properties.
A modified version of PQCD considered in previous works is further investigated in the case of a vanishing gluon condensate, by retaining only the quark one. In this case the Green functions generating functional is expressed in a simple form in which Dirac’s delta functions are now absent from the free propagators. The new expansion implements the dimensional transmutation effect through a single interaction vertex in addition to the standard ones in mass less QCD. The results of an ongoing two loop evaluation of the vacuum energy will be presented.
The great advances in observational cosmology in the last few years have delivered us an unprecedented amount of new data. They begin to indicate with confidence that in the past our universe underwent a phase of acceleration, called inflation, and that it is currently undergoing a similar phase, usually thought of as a consequence of a cosmological constant. I will show how inflation can be probed, using to this purpose a very general effective field theory description.
The cosmological constant problem is arguably the deepest gap in our understanding of modern physics. The discovery of cosmic acceleration in the past decade and its surprising coincidence with cosmic structure formation has added an extra layer of complexity to the problem. I will describe how revisiting/revising some standard assumptions in the theory of gravity can decouple the quantum vacuum from geometry, which can potentially solve the cosmological constant problem.
The standard cosmological model features two periods of accelerated expansion: an inflationary epoch at early times, and a dark energy dominated epoch at late times. These periods of accelerated expansion can lead to surprisingly strong constraints on models with extra dimensions. I will describe new mathematical results which enable one to reconstruct features of a higher-dimensional theory based on the behaviour of the accelerating four-dimensional cosmology. When applied to inflation, these results pose several interesting questions for the construction of concrete models.
Weak lensing has emerged as a powerful probe of fundamental physics such as dark energy and dark matter. After briefly reviewing the standard argument for the power of lensing, I present a variety of surprises: some quantities that are supposedly simple measures of cosmic shear are actually polluted by other effects and some quantities apparently unrelated to lensing are contaminated by lensing. These effects may lead to opportunities to strengthen the constraints lensing will place on dark energy.
If Dark Energy is dynamical, it would indicate the existence of new physics beyond the standard model coupled to gravity. I will argue that the best motivated models of this new physics are all tied to whatever resolves the cosmological constant problem, and discuss the cosmological implications of several proposals that have been put forward in this vein.
I will present three ideas about black holes and cosmology. First, I will discuss a way of understanding the simple patterns which emerge from the notoriously thorny numerical simulations of binary black hole merger, and some of the directions where this understanding may lead. Second, I will suggest a sequence of practical bootstrap tests designed to give sharp observational confirmation of the essential idea underlying the inflationary paradigm: that the universe underwent a period of accelerated expansion followed by a long period of decelerated expansion.