Abstract:
An overview is presented of some cosmological aspects of string theory. Recent developments are emphasised, especially the attempts to derive inflation or alternatives to inflation from the dynamics of branes in string theory. Time dependent backgrounds with potential cosmological implications, such as those provided by negative tension branes and S-branes and the rolling string tachyon are also discussed.

Abstract:
We show that bosonization in two dimensions can be derived as a special case of the duality transformations that have recently been used to good effect in string theory. This allows the construction of the bosonic counterpart of any fermionic theory simply by `following your nose' using the standard duality transformation rules. We work through the bosonization of the Dirac fermion, the massive and massless Thirring models, and a fermion on a cylindrical spacetime as illustrative examples.

Abstract:
Applying the techniques of nonabelian duality to a system of Majorana fermions in 1+1 dimensions we obtain the level-one Wess-Zumino-Witten model as the dual theory. This makes nonabelian bosonization a particular case of a nonabelian duality transformation, generalizing our previous result (hep-th/9401105) for the abelian case.

Abstract:
We perform a Bayesian model selection analysis in the the R-parity conserving MSSM to compare two different assumptions: whether the lightest neutralinos make all or only part of the cold dark matter. This corresponds to either imposing full WMAP relic density limits or just its upper bound for constraining the MSSM parameters. We consider several realisations of the MSSM, namely, three GUT-scale SUSY breaking scenarios with a handful of parameters corresponding to the CMSSM, anomaly mediation and the large volume string scenarios as well as the weak-scale 25-parameter phenomenological MSSM (pMSSM). The results give a data-based quantitative evidence for a multicomponent cold dark matter. The pMSSM posterior samples indicate that the choice of imposing full WMAP limits or just its upper bound affects mostly the gaugino-higgsino content of the neutralino and, against naive expectations, essentially not any other sector.

Abstract:
Plant ecosystems in arid and semiarid climates show high complexity, since they depend on water availability to carry out their vital processes. In these climates, water stress is the main factor controlling vegetation development and its dynamic evolution. The available water-soil content results from the water balance in the system, where the key issues are the soil, the vegetation and the atmosphere. However, it is the vegetation, which modulates, to a great extent, the water fluxes and the feedback mechanisms between soil and atmosphere. Thus, soil moisture content is most relevant for plant growth maintenance and final water balance assessment. A conceptual dynamic vegetation-soil model (called HORAS) for arid and semi-arid zones has been developed. This conceptual model, based on a series of connected tanks, represents in a way suitable for a Mediterranean climate, the vegetation response to soil moisture fluctuations and the actual leaf biomass influence on soil water availability and evapotranspiration. Two tanks were considered using at each of them the water balance and the appropriate dynamic equation for all considered fluxes. The first one corresponds to the interception process, whereas the second one models the evolution of moisture by the upper soil. The model parameters were based on soil and vegetation properties, but reduced their numbers. Simulations for dominant species, Quercus coccifera L., were carried out to calibrate and validate the model. Our results show that HORAS succeeded in representing the vegetation dynamics and, on the one hand, reflects how following a fire this monoculture stabilizes after 9 years. On the other hand, the model shows the adaptation of the vegetation to the variability of climatic and soil conditions, demonstrating that in the presence or shortage of water, the vegetation regulates its leaf biomass as well as its rate of transpiration in an attempt to minimize total water stress.

Abstract:
Plant ecosystems in arid and semiarid zones show high complexity from the point of view of water resources, since they depend on water availability to carry out their vital processes. In these climates, water stress is the main factor controlling vegetation development. The available water in the system results from a water balance where the soil, vegetation and the atmosphere are the key issues; but it is the vegetation which modulates (to a great extent) the total balance of water and the mechanisms of the feedback between soil and atmosphere, being the knowledge about soil moisture quite relevant for assessing available water and, as a consequence, for growth and plants maintenance and the final water balance in the system. A conceptual dynamic vegetation-soil model (CDVSM) for arid and semiarid zones was developed. This model based in a tank type conceptualization represents in a suitable way, for Mediterranean climate, the vegetation responses to soil moisture fluctuations. Two tanks interconnected were considered using the water balance equation and the appropriate dynamic equation for all considered fluxes. The first one corresponds to the interception process done by the vegetation. The second one models the upper soil moisture determination. In this tank parameters are based on soil and vegetation properties. The transpiration of the vegetation is a function of the soil moisture, the vegetation type and the biomass. Once all water state variables are evaluated at each time step, the modifications in the biomass are made as a function of transpiration rate and water stress. Simulations for monoculture of Quercus Coccifera L. were carried out. Results shows that CDVSM is able to represent the vegetation dynamic, reflecting how the monoculture is stabilized around 0.7 of relative biomass, with adaptation to the soil moisture fluctuations in the long term. The model shows the vegetation adaptation to the variability of the climatic conditions, demonstrating how either in the presence or shortage of water, the vegetation regulates its biomass as well as its rate of transpiration trying to minimize the total water stress.

Abstract:
Standard lore asserts that quantum effects generically forbid the occurrence of light (non-pseudo-Goldstone) scalars having masses smaller than the Kaluza Klein scale, M_KK, in extra-dimensional models, or the gravitino mass, M_3/2, in supersymmetric situations. We argue that a hidden assumption underlies this lore: that the scale of gravitational physics, M_g, (e.g. the string scale, M_s, in string theory) is of order the Planck mass, M_p = 10^18 GeV. We explore sensitivity to this assumption using the spectrum of masses arising within the specific framework of large-volume string compactifications, for which the ultraviolet completion at the gravity scale is explicitly known to be a Type IIB string theory. In such models the separation between M_g and M_p is parameterized by the (large) size of the extra dimensional volume, V (in string units), according to M_p: M_g: M_KK: M_3/2 = 1: V^{-1/2}: V^{-2/3}: V^{-1}. We find that the generic size of quantum corrections to masses is of the order of M_KK M_3/2 / M_p ~ M_p / V^{5/3}. The mass of the lighest modulus (corresponding to the extra-dimensional volume) which at the classical level is M_V ~ M_p/V^{3/2} << M_3/2 << M_KK is thus stable against quantum corrections. This is possible because the couplings of this modulus to other forms of matter in the low-energy theory are generically weaker than gravitational strength (something that is also usually thought not to occur according to standard lore). We discuss some phenomenological and cosmological implications of this observation.

Abstract:
In 4-D heterotic superstrings, the dilaton and antisymmetric tensor fields belong to a linear N=1 supersymmetric multiplet L. We study the lagrangian describing the coupling of one linear multiplet to chiral and gauge multiplets in global and local supersymmetry, with particular emphasis on string tree-level and loop-corrected effective actions. This theory is dual to an equivalent one with chiral multiplets only. But the formulation with a linear multiplet appears to have decisive advantages beyond string tree-level since, in particular, is the string loop-counting parameter and the duality transformation is in general not exactly solvable beyond tree-level. This formulation allows us to easily deduce some powerful non-renormalization theorems in the effective theory and to obtain explicitly some loop corrections to the string effective supergravity for simple compactifications. Finally, we discuss the issue of supersymmetry breaking by gaugino condensation using this formalism.

Abstract:
We propose a new mechanism for obtaining de Sitter vacua in type IIB string theory compactified on (orientifolded) Calabi-Yau manifolds similar to those recently studied by Kachru, Kallosh, Linde and Trivedi (KKLT). dS vacuum appears in KKLT model after uplifting an AdS vacuum by adding an anti-D3-brane, which explicitly breaks supersymmetry. We accomplish the same goal by adding fluxes of gauge fields within the D7-branes, which induce a D-term potential in the effective 4D action. In this way we obtain dS space as a spontaneously broken vacuum from a purely supersymmetric 4D action. We argue that our approach can be directly extended to heterotic string vacua, with the dilaton potential obtained from a combination of gaugino condensation and the D-terms generated by anomalous U(1) gauge groups.

Abstract:
We construct D=4 Type I vacua with massless content remarkably close to that of the standard model of particle physics. They are tachyon-free non-supersymmetric models which are obtained starting with a standard D=4, N=1 compact Type IIB orientifold and adding the same number of Dp-branes and anti-Dp-branes distributed at different points of the underlying orbifold. Supersymmetry-breaking is felt by the observable world either directly, by gravity mediation or gauge mediation, depending on the brane configuration. We construct several simple three generation examples with the gauge group of the standard model or its left-right symmetric extensions. The models contain a number of U(1) gauge groups whose anomalies are cancelled by a generalized Green-Schwarz mechanism. These U(1)'s are broken but may survive as global symmetries providing for a flavour structure to the models. The value of the string scale may be lowered down to the intermediate scale (as required in the gravity mediation case) or down to 1-100 TeV for the non-SUSY models. Thus the present models are the first semirealistic string vacua realizing the possibility of a low string scale. The unbalanced force between the pairs of Dp- and anti-Dp-branes provides for an effect which tends to compactify some of the extra dimensions but no others. This could provide a new mechanism for radius stabilization.