Poincaré, Scale and Conformal Symmetries: Gauge Perspective and Cosmological Ramifications

Symmetries are omnipresent and play a fundamental role in the description of Nature. Thanks to them, we have at our disposal nontrivial selection rules that dictate how a theory should be constructed. This thesis, which is naturally divided into two parts, is devoted to the broad physical implications that spacetime symmetries can have on the systems that posses them. In the first part, we focus on local symmetries. We review in detail the techniques of a self-consistent framework -- the coset construction -- that we employed in order to discuss the dynamics of the theories of interest. The merit of this approach lies in that we can make the (spacetime) symmetry group act internally and thus, be effectively separated from coordinate transformations. We investigate under which conditions it is not needed to introduce extra compensating fields to make relativistic as well as nonrelativistic theories invariant under local spacetime symmetries and more precisely under scale (Weyl) transformations. In addition, we clarify the role that the field strength associated with shifts (torsion) plays in this context. We also highlight the difference between the frequently mixed concepts of Weyl and conformal invariance and we demonstrate that not all conformal theories (in flat or curved spacetime), can be coupled to gravity in a Weyl invariant way. Once this ``minimalistic'' treatment for gauging symmetries is left aside, new possibilities appear. Namely, if we consider the Poincar\'e group, the presence of the compensating modes leads to nontrivial particle dynamics. We investigate in detail their behavior and we derive constraints such that the theory is free from pathologies. In the second part of the thesis, we make clear that even when not gauged, the presence of spontaneously broken (global) scale invariance can be quite appealing. First of all, it makes possible for the various dimensionful parameters that appear in a theory to be generated dynamically and be sourced by the vacuum expectation value of the Goldstone boson of the nonlinearly realized symmetry -- the dilaton. If the Standard Model of particle physics is embedded into a scale-invariant framework, a number of interesting implications for cosmology arise. As it turns out, the early inflationary stage of our Universe and its present-day acceleration become linked, a connection that might give us some insight into the dark energy dynamics. Moreover, we show that in the context of gravitational theories which are invariant under restricted coordinate transformations, the dilaton instead of being introduced ad hoc, can emerge from the gravitational part of a theory. Finally, we discuss the consequences of the nontrivial way this field emerges in the action.

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