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James Binney

Head of Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics

I am a theoretical physicist who works on problems in astronomy.

Physics can transport you to a remote corner of the Universe, back into the remotest past, down to the smallest physical scales. Physics gives us our deepest understanding of what reality is (and it is not at all what it seems). Physics enpowers you by enabling you to understand what is going on around you in the every-day world, and it is constantly transforming society by enabling new technologies. Physics is immensely useful but that's not why we study it. Physics is the mathematical representation of Nature & it's a miracle.

I am currently teaching the 2nd year introduction to quantum mechanics. In the course of my 30 years on the Oxford Faculty I've taught a wide range of topics within physics, with an emphasis on mathematical physics. Lecture notes for the courses I've lectured rather than tutored can be found here

I've co-authored several graduate-level texts, and an undergraduate text

I work on the structure and formation of galaxies. We are currently concentrating on optimising the exploitation of data from ongoing and upcoming surveys of our Galaxy. I am playing a role in the Radial Velocity Experiment, which is taking the spectra in Australia of ~500,000 stars and the ESO-Gaia survey, to which the European Southern Observatory has dedicated 240 nights of the Very Large Telescope in Chile. We are working towards exploitation of data from the Gaia satellite, which will be launched in early 2013 and will measure, inter alia, the parallaxes of a billion stars, some as far away as the centre of the Galaxy. We are using novel dynamical techniques to build models of the Galaxy that can be adjusted until they are consistent with this immense body of data. With the help of these models we expect to be able to map the distribution of gravitating matter through the Galaxy, and to deduce how the Galaxy was assembled and evolved to its present state.

I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2000
I am a member of the Leverhulme Advisory Panel
I am a Fellow of the Institute of Physics and the Royal Astronomical Society