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The String Dilaton and a Least Coupling Principle


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      It is pointed out that string-loop modifications of the low-energy matter couplings of the dilaton may provide a mechanism for fixing the vacuum expectation value of a massless dilaton in a way which is naturally compatible with existing experimental data. Under a certain assumption of universality of the dilaton coupling functions , the cosmological evolution of the graviton-dilaton-matter system is shown to drive the dilaton towards values where it decouples from matter (``Least Coupling Principle"). Quantitative estimates are given of the residual strength, at the present cosmological epoch, of the coupling to matter of the dilaton. The existence of a weakly coupled massless dilaton entails a large spectrum of small, but non-zero, observable deviations from general relativity. In particular, our results provide a new motivation for trying to improve by several orders of magnitude the various experimental tests of Einstein's Equivalence Principle (universality of free fall, constancy of the constants,\dots).

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      General relativity as a cosmological attractor of tensor-scalar theories.


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        14 January 1994
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        23 pages


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