Abstract:
The origin of ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECR) has been widely regarded as one of the major questions in the frontiers of particle astrophysics. Gamma ray bursts (GRB), the most violent explosions in the universe second only to the Big Bang, have been a popular candidate site for UHECR productions. The recent IceCube report on the non-observation of GRB induced neutrinos therefore attracts wide attention. This dilemma requires a resolution: either the assumption of GRB as UHECR accelerator is to be abandoned or the expected GRB induced neutrino yield was wrong. It has been pointed out that IceCube has overestimated the neutrino flux at GRB site by a factor of $\sim 5$. In this paper we point out that, in addition to the issue of neutrino production at source, the neutrino oscillation and the possible neutrino decay during their flight from GRB to Earth should further reduce the detectability of IceCube, which is most sensitive to the muon-neutrino flavor as far as point-source identification is concerned. Specifically, neutrino oscillation will reduce the muon-neutrino flavor ratio from 2/3 per neutrino at GRB source to 1/3 on Earth, while neutrino decay, if exists and under the assumption of normal hierarchy of mass eigenstates, would result in a further reduction of muon-neutrino ratio to 1/8. With these in mind, we note that there have been efforts in recent years in pursuing other type of neutrino telescopes based on Askaryan effect, which can in principle observe and distinguish all three flavors with comparable sensitivities. Such new approach may therefore be complementary to IceCube in shedding more lights on this cosmic accelerator question.

Abstract:
We propose a solution to the longstanding cosmological constant (CC) problem which is based on the fusion of two existing concepts. The first is the suggestion that the proper description of classical gravitational effects is the gauge theory of gravity in which the connection instead of the metric acts as the dynamical variable. The resulting field equation does not then contain the CC term. This removes the connection between the CC and the quantum vacuum energy, and therefore addresses the {\it old} CC problem of why quantum vacuum energy does not gravitate. The CC-equivalent in this approach arises from the constant of integration when reducing the field equation to the Einstein equation. The second is the assumption that the universe obeys de Sitter symmetry, with the observed accelerating expansion as its manifestation. We combine these ideas and identify the constant of integration with the inverse-square of the radius of curvature of the de Sitter space. The origin of dark energy (DE) is therefore associated with the inherent spacetime geometry, with the smallness of DE protected by symmetry. This addresses the {\it new} CC problem, or the DE puzzle. This approach, however, faces major challenges from quantum considerations. These are the ghost problem associated with higher order gravity theories and the quantum instability of the de Sitter spacetime. We discuss their possible remedies.

Abstract:
Recent years have seen dramatic progress in cosmology and particle astrophysics. So much so that anyone who dares to offer an overview would certainly risk him- or herself for being incomplete and biased at best, and even incorrect due to the author's limited expertise. It is with this understanding and excuse that I risk myself in offering this review. After a brief summary of Planck mission's first results, I highlight some selected theoretical and experimental advancement in dark energy, dark matter, and cosmic neutrinos research. It is hoped that with a glance through these exciting development, one would be convinced that we are now a step closer to the ultimate understanding of our universe, while major breakthroughs are still required.

Abstract:
The origin of ultra-high energy cosmic rays (UHECR) has been widely regarded as one of the major questions in the frontiers of particle astrophysics. Gamma ray bursts (GRB), the most violent explosions in the universe second only to the Big Bang, have been a popular candidate site for UHECR productions. The recent IceCube report on the non-observation of GRB induced neutrinos therefore attracts wide attention. This dilemma requires a resolution: either the assumption of GRB as UHECR accelerator is to be abandoned or the expected GRB induced neutrino yield was wrong. It has been pointed out that IceCube has overestimated the neutrino flux at GRB site by a factor of $\sim 5$. In this paper we point out that, in addition to the issue of neutrino production at source, the neutrino oscillation and the possible neutrino decay during their flight from GRB to Earth should further reduce the detectability of IceCube, which is most sensitive to the muon-neutrino flavor as far as point-source identification is concerned. Specifically, neutrino oscillation will reduce the muon-neutrino flavor ratio from 2/3 per neutrino at GRB source to 1/3 on Earth, while neutrino decay, if exists and under the assumption of normal hierarchy of mass eigenstates, would result in a further reduction of muon-neutrino ratio to 1/8. With these in mind, we note that there have been efforts in recent years in pursuing other type of neutrino telescopes based on Askaryan effect, which can in principle observe and distinguish all three flavors with comparable sensitivities. Such new approach may therefore be complementary to IceCube in shedding more lights on this cosmic accelerator question.

Abstract:
There have been proposals that primordial black hole remnants (BHRs) are the dark matter, but the idea is somewhat vague. We argue here first that the generalized uncertainty principle (GUP) may prevent black holes from evaporating completely, in a similar way that the standard uncertainty principle prevents the hydrogen atom from collapsing. Secondly we note that the hybrid inflation model provides a plausible mechanism for production of large numbers of small black holes. Combining these we suggest that the dark matter might be composed of Planck-size BHRs and discuss the possible constraints and signatures associated with this notion.

Abstract:
Recent years have seen tremendous progress in our understanding of the extreme universe, which in turn points to even deeper questions to be further addressed. History has shown that the symbiosis between direct observations and laboratory investigations is instrumental in the progress of astrophysics. Current frontier astrophysical phenomena related to particle astrophysics and cosmology typically involve one or more of the following conditions: (1) extremely high energy events;(2) very high density, high temperature processes; (3) super strong field environments. Laboratory experiments using high intensity lasers and particle beams can calibrate astrophysical observation or detection processes, investigate the underlying dynamics of astrophysical phenomena, and probe fundamental physics in extreme limits. We give examples of possible laboratory experiments that investigate into the extreme universe.

Abstract:
Recent years have seen tremendous progress in our understanding of the cosmos, which in turn points to even deeper questions to be further addressed. Concurrently the laser technology has undergone dramatic revolutions, providing exciting opportunity for science applications. History has shown that the symbiosis between direct observations and laboratory investigation is instrumental in the progress of astrophysics. We believe that this remains true in cosmology. Current frontier phenomena related to particle astrophysics and cosmology typically involve one or more of the following conditions: (1) extremely high energy events; (2) very high density, high temperature processes; (3) super strong field environments. Laboratory experiments using high intensity lasers can calibrate astrophysical observations, investigate underlying dynamics of astrophysical phenomena, and probe fundamental physics in extreme limits. In this article we give an overview of the exciting prospect of laser cosmology. In particular, we showcase its unique capability of investigating frontier cosmology issues such as cosmic accelerator and quantum gravity.

Abstract:
There have been proposals that primordial black hole remnants (BHRs) are the dark matter, but the idea is somewhat vague. Recently we argued that the generalized uncertainty principle (GUP) may prevent black holes from evaporating completely, in a similar way that the standard uncertainty principle prevents the hydrogen atom from collapsing. We further noted that the hybrid inflation model provides a plausible mechanism for production of large numbers of small black holes. Combining these we suggested that the dark matter might be composed of Planck-size BHRs. In this paper we briefly review these arguments, and discuss the reheating temperature as a result of black hole evaporation.

Abstract:
In this report we construct a phenomenological model in which the time variation of the fine structure constant, $\alpha$, is induced by a parity and charge-parity (PCP) violating interaction. Such a PCP violation in the photon sector has a distinct physical origin from that in the conventional models of this kind. We calculate the cosmological birefringence so induced in our model and show that it in turn produces a new non-vanishing multipole moment correlation between the temperature and the polarization anisotropies in the CMB spectrum. We have also calculated the amount of optical rotation due to a strong background magnetic field and the effect of our new PCP violating term on the variation of $\alpha$ during the cosmic evolution. We found that only in the radiation dominated era can the contribution of the new PCP violating term to the variation of $\alpha$ be non-vanishing.

Abstract:
In this paper we study in detail the effect of our recently proposed model of parity and charge-parity (PCP) violating varying alpha on the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) photon passing through the intra galaxy-cluster medium (ICM). The ICM is well known to be composed of magnetized plasma. According to our model, the polarization and intensity of the CMB would be affected when traversing through the ICM due to non-trivial scalar photon interactions. We have calculated the evolution of such polarization and intensity collectively, known as the stokes parameters of the CMB photon during its journey through the ICM and tested our results against the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) measurement on Coma galaxy cluster. Our model contains a PCP violating parameter, $\beta$, and a scale of alpha variation $\omega$. Using the derived constrained on the photon-to-scalar conversion probability, ${\bar P}_{\gamma \rightarrow \phi}$, for Coma cluster in ref.[34] we found a contour plot in the ($\omega,\beta$) parameter plane. The $\beta =0$ line in this parameter space corresponds to well-studied Maxwell-dilaton type models which has lower bound on $\omega \gtrapprox 6.4 \times 10^{9}$ GeV. In general, as the absolute value of $\beta$ increases, lower bound on $\omega$ also increases. Our model in general predicts the modification of the CMB polarization with a non-trivial dependence on the parity violating coupling parameter $\beta$. However, it is unconstrained in this particular study. We show that this effect can in principle be detected in the future measurements on CMB polarization such that $\beta$ can also be constrained.