Abstract:
We outline a dynamical dark energy scenario whose signatures may be simultaneously tested by astronomical observations and laboratory experiments. The dark energy is a field with slightly sub-gravitational couplings to matter, a logarithmic self-interaction potential with a scale tuned to $\sim 10^{-3} {\rm eV}$, as is usual in quintessence models, and an effective mass $m_\phi$ influenced by the environmental energy density. Its forces may be suppressed just below the current bounds by the chameleon-like mimicry, whereby only outer layers of mass distributions, of thickness $1/m_\phi$, give off appreciable long range forces. After inflation and reheating, the field is relativistic, and attains a Planckian expectation value before Hubble friction freezes it. This can make gravity in space slightly stronger than on Earth. During the matter era, interactions with nonrelativistic matter dig a minimum close to the Planck scale. However, due to its sub-gravitational matter couplings the field will linger away from this minimum until the matter energy density dips below $\sim 10^{-12} {\rm eV}^4$. Then it starts to roll to the minimum, driving a period of cosmic acceleration. Among the signatures of this scenario may be dark energy equation of state $w \ne -1$, stronger gravity in dilute mediums, that may influence BBN and appear as an excess of dark matter, and sub-millimeter corrections to Newton's law, close to the present laboratory limits.

Abstract:
We propose a new way to hide the fifth dimension, and to modify gravity in the far infra-red. A gravitating tensional membrane in five dimensions folds the transverse space into a truncated cone, stoppered by the membrane. For near-critical tension, the conical opening is tiny, and the space becomes a very narrow conical sliver. A very long section, of length comparable to the membrane radius divided by the remaining conical angle, of this sliver is well approximated by a narrow cylinder ending on the membrane. Inside this cylindrical throat we can reduce the theory on the circle. At distances between the circle radius and the length of the cylinder, the theory looks 4D, with a Brans-Dicke-like gravity, and a preferred direction, while at larger distances the cone opens up and the theory turns 5D. The gravitational light scalar in the throat can get an effective local mass term from the interplay of matter interactions and quantum effective potentials on the cone, which may suppress its long range effects. We discuss some phenomenologically interesting consequences.

Abstract:
A special Bianchi I universe is constructed in $~4D~$ string theory. Geometrically it represents a $~3D~$ anti-de-Sitter space crossed with a flat direction whereas in terms of an associated conformal field theory it is an extremal case of a gauged WZWN theory with target the coset $~SU(1,1) \times R^2 / R~$. Some of its properties are discussed.

Abstract:
Two solutions of stringy gravity in three and four dimensions which admit interpretation as a black hole and a black string, respectively, are discussed. It is demonstrated that they are exact WZWN nonlinear sigma models to all orders in the inverse string tension, and hence represent exact conformal field theories on the world-sheet. Furthermore, since the dilaton for these two solutions is constant, they also solve the equations of motion of standard GR with a minimally coupled three form field strength. (Based on a talk presented at the Conference on Quantum Aspects of Black Holes, U. of California, Santa Barbara CA June 21-27 '93, and a poster presented at 5th Canadian Conference on General Relativity and Relativistic Astrophysics, Waterloo, Ont., May 13-15, 1993.)

Abstract:
Different compactifications of six-dimensional string theory on $M_4 \times T^2$ are considered. Particular attention is given to the roles of the reduced modes as the $S$ and $T$ fields. It is shown that there is a discrete group of invariances of an equilateral triangle hidden in the model. This group is realized as the interchanges of the two-form fields present in the intermediate step of dimensional reduction in five dimensions. The key ingredient for the existence of this group is the presence of an additional $U(1)$ gauge field in five dimensions, arising as the dual of the Kalb-Ramond axion field strength. As a consequence, the theory contains more four-dimensional $SL(2,R)$ representations, with the resulting complex scalar axidilaton related to the components of the Kaluza-Klein vector fields of the naive dimensional reduction. An immediate byproduct of this relationship is a triadic correspondence among the fundamental string, the solitonic string, and a singular Brinkmann pp wave.

Abstract:
A no-go theorem pertaining to the graceful exit problem in Pre-Big-Bang inflation is reviewed. It is shown that dilaton self-interactions and string fluid sources fail to facilitate branch changing necessary to avoid singularities. A comment on the failure of the higher genus corrections to induce graceful exit is also included.

Abstract:
We compute the entropy of extremal black strings in three dimensions, using Strominger's approach to relate the Anti-de-Sitter near-horizon geometry and the conformal field theory at the asymptotic infinity of this geometry. The result is identical to the geometric Bekenstein-Hawking entropy. We further discuss an embedding of three-dimensional black strings in $N=1 D=10$ supergravity and demonstrate that the extremal strings preserve 1/4 of supersymmetries.

Abstract:
We discuss a particular stringy modular cosmology with two axion fields in seven space-time dimensions, decomposable as a time and two flat three-spaces. The effective equations of motion for the problem are those of the $SU(3)$ Toda molecule, and hence are integrable. We write down the solutions, and show that all of them are singular. They can be thought of as a generalization of the Pre-Big-Bang cosmology with excited internal degrees of freedom, and still suffering from the graceful exit problem. Some of the solutions however show a rather unexpected property: some of their spatial sections shrink to a point in spite of winding modes wrapped around them. We also comment how more general, anisotropic, solutions, with fewer Killing symmetries can be obtained with the help of STU dualities.

Abstract:
We present two different families of stationary black strings in three dimensions carrying electric and axion charges. Both solutions contain a singular region, which however is quite harmless for string frame geodesic observers, because the solutions are causally geodesically complete. In addition, we exhibit a variety of extremal limits of our solutions, and argue that there must exist a more general family continuously interpolating between them.

Abstract:
A solution of effective string theory in four dimensions is presented which admits interpretation of a rotating black cosmic string. It is constructed by tensoring the three dimensional black hole, extended with the Kalb-Ramond axion, with a flat direction. The physical interpretation of the solution is discussed, with special attention on the axion, which is found to play a role very similar to a Higgs field. Finally, it is pointed out that the solution represents an exact WZWN $\sigma$ model on the string world sheet, to all orders in the inverse string tension $\alpha'$.