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Oct. 15, 2012 at 6:42 PM
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Mystery of giant eyeball solved

POMPANO BEACH, Fla., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- A mystery giant eyeball that washed up on a Florida beach last week most likely came from a large swordfish, scientists say.

Cut marks on the eyeball suggest it was cut out of the fish's head at sea by a fisherman who then tossed it overboard, NBC News reported Monday.

There had been speculation the eye might have come from a giant squid or even a whale, but officials at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said a swordfish -- which can grow to 1,000 pounds -- was the likely source.

"Experts on site and remotely have viewed and analyzed the eye, and based on its color, size and structure, along with the presence of bone around it, we believe the eye came from a swordfish," Joan Herrera, curator of collections at the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg, said in a commission release.

"Based on straight-line cuts visible around the eye, we believe it was removed by a fisherman and discarded."

Pictures of the giant eyeball flooded the Web following its discovery on Florida's Pompano Beach Thursday.

"It's definitely been unusual to have a situation quite like this," said Kevin Baxter, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.


Distant planet found circling with 4 stars

HONOLULU, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Two U.S. citizen scientists have discovered a planet in a system with four different suns, the first known of its type, U.S. and British astronomers say.

The distant planet orbits one pair of stars while a second pair of stars orbits around it, they said.

The planet was discovered by two U.S. volunteers using the Planethunters.org website who spotted faint dips in light caused by the planet "transiting," or passing in front of, its parent stars.

U.S. and British astronomers then confirmed the discovery of the planet, thought to be a "gas giant" slightly larger than Neptune and more than six times the size of the Earth, with the Keck telescopes in Hawaii.

Astronomers say they're puzzled by how the planet avoids being pulled apart by the gravitational forces of its four stars.

"All four stars pulling on it creates a very complicated environment," Chris Lintott from the University of Oxford told BBC News. "Yet there it sits in an apparently stable orbit."

"That's really confusing, which is one of the things which makes this discovery so fun. It's absolutely not what we would have expected."


Wearable exoskeleton may help paraplegics

PENSACOLA, Fla., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- Research that yielded a NASA robot may someday help astronauts stay healthier in space and assist paraplegics walk here on Earth, the space agency said.

In a spinoff derived from NASA's Robonaut 2 program that provided a robot assistant on the International Space Station, researchers have developed a robotic exoskeleton a human could wear over his or her body either to assist or inhibit movement in leg joints.

In the inhibit mode, the 57-pound robotic device dubbed X1 would be used as an in-space exercise machine for astronauts to supply resistance against leg movement.

The same technology could be used in reverse on the ground, potentially helping some individuals walk for the first time, NASA said.

"What's extraordinary about space technology and our work with projects like Robonaut are the unexpected possibilities space tech spinoffs may have right here on Earth," Michael Gazarik, director of NASA's Space Technology Program, said.

Worn over the legs with a harness that reaches up the back and around the shoulders, X1 has four motorized joints at the hips and the knees and six passive joints that allow for sidestepping, turning and pointing, and flexing a foot.

"It's exciting to see a NASA-developed technology that might one day help people with serious ambulatory needs begin to walk again, or even walk for the first time," Gazarik said.

The X1 is a joint project between NASA, The Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition of Pensacola and Oceaneering Space Systems of Houston.


Google to scan app store for malware?

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., Oct. 15 (UPI) -- U.S. search giant Google will integrate a malware scanner in the Google Play application store to keep malicious apps from reaching users, a tech website says.

Android Police reports there are two parts to the scanner: an "App Check" that inspects all of a device's applications already installed to determine whether any existing apps may harm the device, and a so-called "doorman-style app blocker" that warns a user if an app about to be downloaded is possible malicious or has been tagged as suspicious.

Google is apparently reacting to a number of rogue apps showing up in the Android application store in recent weeks and months, ZDNet reported.

The malware scanner may be based on a free online scanning utility developed by VirusTotal, which Google acquired last month, ZDNet said.

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