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Reading Passages Written for Textbooks


What is a Webcam?
Do you or anyone in your family own a digital camera? If so, you can do the most wonderful things with your camera and your computer. When you put together the camera and the computer with a software program, you have a Webcam.

The Webcam Can Connect You to Others
Have you ever wanted to be able to talk to people faraway and see them at the same time? With the Webcam, you can talk through the computer, see each other, and also share pictures. Suppose you live in Chicago and you have a friend in Los Angeles. Your friend can come to your birthday party through the computer and wish you Happy Birthday.

The Webcam and the Internet
Your Webcam is connected to the World Wide Web. It is a Web camera, called a Webcam, for short. When the computer is off, the camera is also off. The Webcam uses the Internet to allow you to see places and talk to people all over the world.

Public Webcams
There are many Webcams of beautiful scenes or places of interest. You can sit in front of a computer and see places all over the world, and out of this world too! The Webcam at shows the Moon and Earth. At, you can visit the San Diego Zoo or the French Alps. At, you can see the Sun, or a volcano in Mexico. The Kennedy Space Center has many Webcams that can be seen at:

Dangerous Jobs
In an emergency, such as a bomb scare or a nuclear disaster, many people could be hurt. But robots can help. Robots are machines. People have to tell them what to do, often using a computer. Robots often work with firemen, policemen, and the armed forces to handle dangerous jobs and save lives. Here are some examples.

The Bomb Disposal Team
A bomb is very dangerous and frightening, but there is actually a robot that can handle bombs (see picture). This robot is called the mini-andros robot. It has video cameras, a radiation detector, and two “arms.” It climbs stairs, crosses ditches, and can move around in small spaces. This robot is a member of many bomb disposal teams, and it has saved many lives by finding and getting rid of bombs.

Discovering Land Mines
Another dangerous situation might involve troops being told that there are many land mines around them. All the mines must be found and disabled. What is the safest way to do this difficult task? The Spiral Track Autonomous Robot (STAR) (see picture) can find land mines. It is attached to a laptop computer that has video cameras and many other features that are important in helping it find and disable land mines. Clearly, STAR works very hard to help make people safe.

Nuclear Disaster
One of the worst possible hazards is a nuclear disaster. Robug III (see picture) is a $1.3-million robot, who can work safely in radioactive areas. It has eight powered legs, each with four joints, so it can step over large obstacles and climb walls. It even decides how quickly or slowly to walk and where to place its feet when walking.
In the future, as more robots are developed, it is hoped that more lives can be saved.