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Know Another Language? Help Us Globalize Science by Translating Our Video Captions

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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Ever wonder what the wave function is? Or what the differences are between genes, chromosomes and DNA? Or why chimps are stronger than humans? We’ve tackled these and many other questions with our Instant Egghead video explainer series. Such questions are universal, and we know many people who don’t speak English would love the chance to learn about these topics.

We think we have a solution. Today, Scientific American joins with Amara to start a project to translate our YouTube video captions into other languages. This crowd-sourcing effort could lead to subtitles in 20 or more languages–even Esperanto.

We could use your help. If you can write in another language, consider joining the SA team on Amara. Although automated systems can do a good job of giving you the gist, they tend to trip over technical terms and cannot capture expressions, idioms and other, more subtle aspects of language.

Here’s how it works: You sign up at the Amara website. Then you become members of the Scientific American team. You can work on as much or as little as you want. When volunteers deem the translations complete, the captions sync up with our videos on YouTube. Then viewers can select the caption language when they watch the videos.

We’re also planning special offers for our team, so join in if you can to make knowledge more accessible.


Philip Yam About the Author: Philip Yam is the managing editor of He is the author of The Pathological Protein: Mad Cow, Chronic Wasting and Other Prion Diseases. Follow on Twitter @philipyam.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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