Comedian helps to create volcanic cartoon

thisisoxfordshire: Prof David Pyle. Picture: OX56350 Andrew Walmsley Buy this photo Prof David Pyle. Picture: OX56350 Andrew Walmsley

A TOP comedian has teamed up with Oxford University scientists to create a cartoon explaining volcanoes.

Stand-up star Ed Byrne features in a new cartoon which takes viewers deep beneath the ocean to find out how volcanoes are made.

In Underwater Volcano Disaster he is the voice of Hank, a computer controlling a mini-submarine. The cartoon features on the online educational portal Oxford Sparks.

Oxford Sparks allows students, teachers, parents and the public to get involved with science taking place across Oxford University.

Mr Byrne said: “It isn’t every day that Oxford University asks you to play a rogue computer piloting a submarine inside an exploding volcano, so I couldn’t resist.”

Hank is the guide for a fantastic voyage inside a volcano’s plumbing system. The video has already had more than 1,000 hits.

He takes central character Ossie, a friendly green popsicle, on a journey exploring tectonic plates, time travel and explosions.

Mr Byrne added: “I like the idea that by watching everything going wrong for poor old Ossie as he gets shaken, shrunk and boiled alive you’re actually learning something about how volcanoes are made deep beneath the ocean.”

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The animation is the latest in a series of videos from Oxford Sparks, which cover all the physical, life and medical sciences.

In other animations, Ossie has previously investigated heart attacks and the coldest things in the universe.

His starring role in a study of the Large Hadron Collider has had more than 63,000 hits.

The animations complement other Oxford Sparks resources, including videos, activities, mobile phone apps, games, podcasts and virtual tours.

Lou Sumner, 38, from Oxford, is the project leader with the organisation which was set up in 2011.

She said: “The idea of the animations was to act as a call to the site. It gives them something quirky to look at and we wanted to make things quite funny so that people can just enjoy it.”

Prof David Pyle of Oxford University’s Department of Earth Sciences, was the lead scientific adviser on the latest project.

The animator was University of Cambridge Natural Sciences graduate Karen Cheung.

Prof Pyle said: “I am delighted with the way that Karen has captured what rocks actually look like when we look at them under a microscope.”

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