14 Feb 2013

The Open University tours the Universe in 60 seconds

First, it was mind. Then, it was money. Now, The Open University (OU) turns its attention to the stars in the latest series of its popular 60 Second Adventures videos.

60 Second Adventures in Astronomy, narrated by comedian David Mitchell, explains the wonders of the Universe in bite size chunks; brought to life with the series’ trademark fluid animation and rapier wit.

Reader in Cosmology Dr Stephen Serjeant said: "We've found we can get across genuinely deep scientific concepts in only a minute and still have room for a few jokes. The origin and fate of the Universe, time dilation in relativity, how to make black holes; nothing was too tricky. It's been a delight to work with the production team - the wit of their script writing and animations has been wonderful."

Millions of viewers have already tuned-in to the 60 Second Adventures series, which covers topics such as philosophy, English language, economics, and religion.

The minute-long videos are available through YouTube, iTunesU, and the OU’s free online learning platform OpenLearn. The production was funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council and produced by Angel Eye Media.

The animation topics were developed by a team from The Open University’s Science Faculty: Drs Janet Sumner, Stephen Serjeant, Andrew Norton and David Rothery.

Links to the series can be found in the box to the right of this release.


About The Open University
The Open University (OU) is the largest academic institution in the UK and a world leader in flexible distance learning. Since it began in 1969, the OU has taught more than 1.8 million students and has more than 250,000 current students, including over 15,000 overseas.

The OU came top for student satisfaction in the National Student Survey this year, and has been in the top three universities every year since the survey began in 2005. In 2011/12 it had a 93 per cent satisfaction rating. Over 70% of students are in full-time or part-time employment, and four out of five FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff to take OU courses.

In the UK’s latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE 2008) the Open University was ranked in the top third of UK higher education institutions. More than 50% of OU research was assessed in the RAE as internationally excellent, with 14% as world leading.

Regarded as Britain’s major e-learning institution, the OU is a world leader in developing technology to increase access to education on a global scale. Its vast ‘open content portfolio’ includes free study units on OpenLearn, which has had more than 23 million visits, and materials on iTunes U, which has recorded over 56 million downloads. The OU has a 41 year partnership with the BBC which has moved from late-night lectures in the 1970s to prime-time programmes such as Frozen Planet, Bang Goes the Theory, James May’s Big Ideas and The Money Programme.

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