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We investigate spontaneous symmetry breaking in a conformally invariant gravitational model. In particular, we use a conformally invariant scalar tensor theory as the vacuum sector of a gravitational model to examine the idea that gravitational coupling may be the result of a spontanous symmetry breaking. In this model matter is taken to be coupled with a metric which is different but conformally related to the metric appearing explicitly in the vacuum sector. We show that after the spontanous symmetry breaking the resulting theory is consistent with Mach's principle in the sense that inertial masses of particles have variable configurations in a cosmological context. Moreover, our analysis allows to construct a mechanism in which the resulting large vacuum energy density relaxes during evolution of the universe.
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