Abstract:
Part of the theoretical motivation for improving the present level of testing of the equivalence principle is reviewed. The general rationale for optimizing the choice of pairs of materials to be tested is presented. One introduces a simplified rationale based on a trichotomy of competing classes of theoretical models.

Abstract:
A central problem in gravitational wave research is the {\it generation problem}, i.e., the problem of relating the outgoing gravitational wave field to the structure and motion of the material source. This problem has become, in recent years, of increased interest in view of the development of a worldwide network of gravitational wave detectors. We review recent progress in {\it analytical} methods of tackling the gravitational wave generation problem. In particular, we describe recent work in an approach which consists of matching a post-Newtonian expansion of the metric near the material source with a multipolar-post-Minkowskian expansion of the external metric. The results of such analytical methods are important notably for providing accurate theoretical predictions for the most promising targets of the LIGO/VIRGO interferometric network: the ``chirp'' gravitational waveforms emitted during the radiation-reaction-driven inspiral of binary systems of compact objects (neutron stars or black holes).

Abstract:
The confrontation between general relativity (and its theoretically most plausible deviations) and experimental or observational results is summarized. Some discussion is devoted to the various methodologies used in confronting theory and experiment. Both weak-field (solar system) and strong-field (binary pulsar) tests are discussed in detail. A special discussion is devoted to the cosmology of moduli fields, i.e. scalar fields having only gravitational-strength couplings to matter.

Abstract:
The confrontation between Einstein's gravitation theory and experimental results, notably binary pulsar data, is summarized and its significance discussed. Experiment and theory agree at the 10^{-3} level or better. All the basic structures of Einstein's theory (coupling of gravity to matter; propagation and self-interaction of the gravitational field, including in strong-field conditions) have been verified. However, the theoretical possibility that scalar couplings be naturally driven toward zero by the cosmological expansion suggests that the present agreement between Einstein's theory and experiment might be compatible with the existence of a long-range scalar contribution to gravity (such as the dilaton field, or a moduli field, of string theory). This provides a new theoretical paradigm, and new motivations for improving the experimental tests of gravity.

Abstract:
Some of the theoretical challenges posed by the general relativistic description of binary systems of compact objects (neutron stars or black holes) are reviewed. We recall the various ways one can use the theory of the motion, and of the timing, of binary pulsars to test the strong-field and/or radiative aspects of General Relativity. Recent advances in the theory of the motion and radiation of binary black holes are discussed. One emphasizes the usefulness of the Effective One Body approach in providing a quasi-analytical description of the waveform emitted by coalescing binary black holes.

Abstract:
We briefly review the various contexts within which one might address the issue of ``why'' the dimensionless constants of Nature have the particular values that they are observed to have. Both the general historical trend, in physics, of replacing a-priori-given, absolute structures by dynamical entities, and anthropic considerations, suggest that coupling ``constants'' have a dynamical nature. This hints at the existence of observable violations of the Equivalence Principle at some level, and motivates the need for improved tests of the Equivalence Principle.

Abstract:
This contribution tries to highlight the importance of Minkowski's ``Raum und Zeit'' lecture in a ``negative'' way, where {\it negative} is taken in the photographic sense of reversing lights and shades. Indeed, we focus on the ``shades'' of Minkowski's text, i.e. what is missing, or misunderstood. In particular, we focus on two issues: (i) why are Poincar\'e's pioneering contributions to four-dimensional geometry not quoted by Minkowski (while he abundantly quoted them a few months before the Cologne lecture)?, and (ii) did Minkowski fully grasp the physical (and existential) meaning of ``time'' within spacetime? We think that this ``negative'' approach (and the contrast between Poincar\'e's and Minkowski's attitudes towards physics) allows one to better grasp the boldness of the {\it revolutionary} step taken by Minkowski in his Cologne lecture.

Abstract:
The Effective One Body (EOB) formalism is an analytical approach which aims at providing an accurate description of the motion and radiation of coalescing binary black holes. We present a brief review of the basic elements of this approach.

Abstract:
We generalize to the case of spinning black holes a recently introduced ``effective one-body'' approach to the general relativistic dynamics of binary systems. The combination of the effective one-body approach, and of a Pad\'e definition of some crucial effective radial functions, is shown to define a dynamics with much improved post-Newtonian convergence properties, even for black hole separations of the order of $6 GM / c^2$. We discuss the approximate existence of a two-parameter family of ``spherical orbits'' (with constant radius), and, of a corresponding one-parameter family of ``last stable spherical orbits'' (LSSO). These orbits are of special interest for forthcoming LIGO/VIRGO/GEO gravitational wave observations. It is argued that for most (but not all) of the parameter space of two spinning holes the effective one-body approach gives a reliable analytical tool for describing the dynamics of the last orbits before coalescence. This tool predicts, in a quantitative way, how certain spin orientations increase the binding energy of the LSSO. This leads to a detection bias, in LIGO/VIRGO/GEO observations, favouring spinning black hole systems, and makes it urgent to complete the conservative effective one-body dynamics given here by adding (resummed) radiation reaction effects, and by constructing gravitational waveform templates that include spin effects. Finally, our approach predicts that the spin of the final hole formed by the coalescence of two arbitrarily spinning holes never approaches extremality.

Abstract:
String theory suggests the existence of gravitational-strength scalar fields (``dilaton'' and ``moduli'') whose couplings to matter violate the equivalence principle. This provides a new motivation for high-precision clock experiments, as well as a generic theoretical framework for analyzing their significance.