Abstract:
We study the back reaction of cosmological perturbations on the evolution of the universe. The object usually employed to describe the back reaction of perturbations is called the effective energy-momentum tensor (EEMT) of cosmological perturbations. In this formulation, the problem of the gauge dependence of the EEMT must be tackled. We advance beyond traditional results that involve only high frequency perturbations in vacuo, and formulate the back reaction problem in a gauge invariant manner for completely generic perturbations. We give a quick proof that the EEMT for high-frequency perturbations is gauge invariant which greatly simplifies the pioneering approach by Isaacson. As applications we analyze the back reaction of gravitational waves and scalar metric fluctuations in Friedmann-Robertson-Walker background spacetimes. We investigate in particular back reaction effects during inflation in the Chaotic scenario. Fluctuations with a wavelength much bigger than the Hubble radius during inflation contribute a negative energy density, and in that case back reaction counteracts any pre-existing cosmological constant. Finally, we set up the equations of motion for the back reaction on the geometry and on the matter, and show how they are perfectly consistent with the Bianchi identities and the continuity equations.

Abstract:
Starting from the Fisher matrix for counts in cells, I derive the full Fisher matrix for surveys of multiple tracers of large-scale structure. The key assumption is that the inverse of the covariance of the galaxy counts is given by the naive matrix inverse of the covariance in a mixed position-space and Fourier-space basis. I then compute the Fisher matrix for the power spectrum in bins of the three-dimensional wavenumber k; the Fisher matrix for functions of position x (or redshift z) such as the linear bias of the tracers and/or the growth function; and the cross-terms of the Fisher matrix that expresses the correlations between estimations of the power spectrum and estimations of the bias. When the bias and growth function are fully specified, and the Fourier-space bins are large enough that the covariance between them can be neglected, the Fisher matrix for the power spectrum reduces to the widely used result that was first derived by Feldman, Kaiser and Peacock (1994). Assuming isotropy, an exact calculation of the Fisher matrix can be performed in the case of a constant-density, volume-limited survey. I then show how the exact Fisher matrix in the general case can be obtained in terms of a series of volume-limited surveys.

Abstract:
Honey bees are essential pollinators of numerous agricultural crops. Since 2006, honey bee populations have suffered considerable annual losses that are partially attributed to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD is an unexplained phenomenon that correlates with elevated incidence of pathogens, including RNA viruses. Honey bees are eusocial insects that live in colonies of genetically related individuals that work in concert to gather and store nutrients. Their social organization provides numerous benefits, but also facilitates pathogen transmission between individuals. To investigate honey bee antiviral defense mechanisms, we developed an RNA virus infection model and discovered that administration of dsRNA, regardless of sequence, reduced virus infection. Our results suggest that dsRNA, a viral pathogen associated molecular pattern (PAMP), triggers an antiviral response that controls virus infection in honey bees.

Abstract:
By demanding that a bounce is nonsingular and that perturbations are well-behaved at all times, we narrow the scope of possible models with one degree of freedom that can describe a bounce in the absence of spatial curvature. We compute the general properties of the transfer matrix of perturbations through the bounce, and show that spectral distortions of the Bardeen potential $\Phi$ are generically produced only for the small wavelengths, although the spectrum of long wavelength curvature perturbations produced in a contracting phase gets propagated unaffected through such a bounce.

Abstract:
We propose a modification of the Hybrid Monte-Carlo method to sample equilibrium distributions of continuous field models. The method allows an efficient implementation of Fourier acceleration and is shown to reduce completely critical slowing down for the Gaussian model, i. e., $z=0$.

Abstract:
Signals obtained in land seismic surveys are usually contaminated with coherent noise, among which the ground roll (Rayleigh surface waves) is of major concern for it can severely degrade the quality of the information obtained from the seismic record. Properly suppressing the ground roll from seismic data is not only of great practical importance but also remains a scientific challenge. Here we propose an optimized filter based on the Karhunen--Lo\'eve transform for processing seismic data contaminated with ground roll. In our method, the contaminated region of the seismic record, to be processed by the filter, is selected in such way so as to correspond to the maximum of a properly defined coherence index. The main advantages of the method are that the ground roll is suppressed with negligible distortion of the remanent reflection signals and that the filtering can be performed on the computer in a largely unsupervised manner. The method has been devised to filter seismic data, however it could also be relevant for other applications where localized coherent structures, embedded in a complex spatiotemporal dynamics, need to be identified in a more refined way.

Abstract:
A two-dimensional earthquake model that consists of a single block resting upon a slowly moving rough surface and connected by two springs to rigid supports is studied. Depending on the elastic anisotropy and the friction force three generic regimes are possible: i) pure creep; ii) pure stick-slip motion; and iii) a mixed regime. In all cases the long-time dynamics (fixed point, periodic orbit or chaos) is determined by the direction of the pulling velocity. The possible relevance of our findings to real faults is briefly discussed.

Abstract:
We show that the thermal Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect caused by hot electrons in the Local Supercluster (LSC) can explain the abnormal quadrupole and octopole of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) that were measured by WMAP and COBE. The distortion needed to account for the low observed quadrupole is a spot in the direction of the LSC with a temperature decrease of order \Delta T \approx - 7 \mu K for \nu ~ 20 -- 90 Ghz photons. The temperature and density of the hot gas which can generate such an effect are consistent with observations of the X-ray background. If this hypothetic foreground is subtracted from the WMAP data, we find that the amplitude of the quadrupole (l=2) is substantially increased, and that the ``planarity'' of both the quadrupole and the octopole (l=3) are weakened. For smaller scales the effect decays and, at least in our simplified model, it does not affect the angular power spectrum at l>10. Moreover, since the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect increases the temperature of photons with frequencies above 218 GHz, observations sensitive in that range (such as PLANCK's HFI) will be able to confirm whether the LSC indeed affects the CMB.

Abstract:
We show that Einstein's gravity coupled to a non-minimally coupled scalar field is stable even for high values of the scalar field, when the sign of the Einstein-Hilbert action is reversed. We also discuss inflationary solutions and a possible new mechanism of reheating.