4 great ways to watch the longest ‘blood moon’ total lunar eclipse of the next 104 years

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  • A blood moon or total lunar eclipse is happening on Friday, July 27.
  • At 1 hour 43 minutes of totality, the lunar eclipse will be the longest until the year 2123.
  • People in North America, including the US, Canada, and Mexico, won’t be able to see the blood moon.
  • But NASA, the Weather Channel, TimeAndDate.com, Slooh, and others will broadcast live online footage of the astronomical event. Here’s how to watch.

A majority of Earth is in for a special astronomical treat on Friday night: the longest total lunar eclipse (also known as a blood moon) in a century.

On that night, our planet will slip in front of the sun to cast an orange-red shadow on the full moon. From the moon, the Earth would appear to be surrounded by a 25,000-mile-around ring of fire.

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Unfortunately, a big swath of the planet won’t get witness this astronomical spectacle first-hand. The moon will be below the horizon and entirely out of sight in the US, Canada, Mexico, and other North American countries during the eclipse. (Cloudy weather could also block a clear view of the night sky for those in regions where the eclipse is visible.)

So praise be to the magic of cameras, high-powered lenses or telescopes, and the internet — anyone with a decent web connection can watch the blood moon from their phone or computer.

Below we’ve listed a number of ways you can watch the total lunar eclipse live using online video streams. Some you can even play without leaving this page.

What to look for and when

To fully enjoy a blood moon, whether in person or online, it helps to understand the sequence of events, their timing, and their effects.

The official start of the lunar eclipse is just before 1:15 p.m. EDT (17:15 UT) on Friday, July 27. This is when the moon first touches Earth’s outer shadow or penumbra. It might look like the moon is getting a bite taken out of it.

how total lunar eclipse works blood moon umbra penumbra earth shadow refraction diagram physics nasa shayanne gal business insider graphics

The penumbral shadow will grow and deepen until about 2:24 p.m. EDT (18:24 UT). At this point, the moon will start turning orange-red because it’s entering Earth’s central shadow or umbra.

By about 3:30 p.m. EDT (19:30 UT), the moon should look completely colored and in "totality," or totally inside our planet’s umbra.

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Peak or greatest eclipse — when the moon is closest to the center of the umbra — will happen just before 4:22 p.m. EDT (20:22 UT). The moon will be at its darkest at that point.

From there, these phases will happen in reverse, with totality ending 1 hour 42 minutes and 57 seconds after it started, at 5:13 p.m. EDT (21:13 UT). That’s the longest total lunar eclipse until June 9, 2123.

Finally, at 6:19 p.m. EDT (22:19 UT), the moon will exit the umbra; by 7:28 p.m. EDT (23:28 UT), the whole event will be over. After that, our lunar companion will be fully outside Earth’s shadow and look like a typical full moon.

Here’s how to watch all this live:

1. Slooh

Slooh, a company that airs live views of space, plans to broadcast telescope views of the entire lunar eclipse from start to finish. Their YouTube feed should go live at 1:00 p.m. EDT (17:00 UT), which is 15 minutes before the event begins.

During their show, which will also air on Facebook Live, astronomers will likely comment on the history and science of total lunar eclipses.

As Slooh explained in an email to Business Insider, the eclipse will happen when the moon "is farthest from Earth and appears at its smallest, therefore taking more time to pass through Earth’s umbral shadow."

2. TimeAndDate.com

An alternative way to watch most of the lunar eclipse will be Time and Date which will start its live coverage 2:00 p.m. EDT (18:00 UT).

The website also has useful interactive maps of the event.

3. The Virtual Telescope Project

The Virtual Telescope Project, which published some of the first astronomical images of Elon Musk’s car flying toward Mars orbit, will have its cameras trained on the moon during the lunar eclipse. The webcast should kick off at 2:30 p.m. EDT (18:30 UT).

"Our live coverage will be from a very unique place, the Roman Forum on the Palatine Hill, from where the eclipsed moon and the red planet will show just above the legendary Colosseum and the Arch of Constantine," astronomer Gianluca Masi, who runs the site from Europe, told Business Insider in an email. "So, both the sky and the landscape will amaze the people worldwide thanks to our streaming, as we will share all this with them."

4. The Weather Channel

This outlet has an app that will livestream the eclipse starting at 4 p.m. ET, "including the best views of the lunar eclipse from field crews in multiple countries, such as Greece, Luxembourg, Italy and Australia," a representative told Business Insider in an email.

You have to download The Weather Channel’s app to watch their footage, which should last about an hour.

Note, however that only people watching from the US (or perhaps via a US internet service provider) will get to see this blood moon webcast.

SEE ALSO: 27 of the most iconic, jaw-dropping photos of the Earth and the moon from space

DON’T MISS: SpaceX may still rocket 2 mystery customers around the moon — here’s what Apollo astronaut Jim Lovell says the trip could be like

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This NASA animation shows what this month’s stunning lunar eclipse would look like on the moon

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Google now has its own hardware security keys

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Google

Yesterday, Google revealed that it completely cut phishing attacks against more than 85,000 employees by making them use hardware security keys. They’re small USB drive-sized devices that handle online logins, and they’re proven to be even more secure than other two-factor authentication methods. Today, Google announced that its workers were actually testing the company’s own security devices, the Titan Key. They’ll compete directly with similar products from Yubikey, which Google has been recommending for years.

The Titan Key will come in two FIDO-compatible versions: One that’ll plug into a USB port, and another that works with Bluetooth, which lets it work with mobile devices. Since you actually have to be near your computer or phone, they don’t have the risk of being intercepted, like SMS-based two-factor authentication. But of course, you’ll still have to avoid losing them. We don’t have pricing details yet, but Google says they’re available to Google Cloud customers and will soon appear in its store.

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How a population of lizards was forever changed by 2017’s extreme hurricane season

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The extreme winds from last year’s destructive hurricane season seems to have come with some unexpected consequences.  

Hurricanes Irma and Maria — some of the most destructive in Caribbean history — may have forced rapid evolutionary change in a native population of small-bodied anole lizards (Anolis scriptus), researchers in the West Indies say.

According to a new study about the lizards released in Nature this week, much of the surviving population of lizards after the hurricanes have larger toe pads, longer forelimbs, and shorter hind limbs than the average anole.

Still of lizard clinging to an experimental perch in hurricane-force winds. Wind speed meter is displaying in miles per hour.Credit: Colin Donihue

Still of lizard clinging to an experimental perch in hurricane-force winds. Wind speed meter is displaying in miles per hour.Credit: Colin Donihue

Those long forelimbs and toe pads would have allowed these anoles to cling to surfaces during gale-force winds brought by the hurricanes. 

Effectively, this means that the hurricanes forced natural selection in real-time, the scientists suggest.

“Day in and day out, natural selection favors those lizards who can run around branches, find food, and find mates,” lead author of the study Colin Donihue said in an interview. 

“It’s only in these atypical instances like hurricanes that we would be able to see a shift away from historical selection.”

With the frequency and intensity of hurricanes ramping up, species within affected ecosystems are being forced to adapt to extreme conditions.  

It’s even possible that certain adaptations might aid survival chances in one instance, and hurt them in another, Martha Muñoz, an evolutionary biologist not affiliated with the study, said.

“One trait can enable survivorship in a storm, like shorter hind limbs, but on a daily basis longer hind limbs will help these animals escape predation because it helps them run faster,” Muñoz said. 

But it would take an entirely different study to determine how this selection affects the future of the species, and findings like this are rare.

In fact, the data from Donihue and colleagues was due to a coincidence. They had just completed a survey of the lizard population immediately before the hurricanes swept through the island. After the hurricanes, they recognized that they had a unique opportunity, and decided to return. 

The hurricanes key to their research, Irma and Maria, have gone down as two of the worst natural disasters to affect the Caribbean — where it’s possible that almost 5,000 people have lost their lives. And a year later, some places affected, like Puerto Rico and Dominica, still don’t have power. 

The literature on the impact of extreme weather events on localized animal populations is a relatively scarce, but burgeoning field due to increased extreme weather. 

A study published in 2017 found that a polar vortex that hit the Southeast in 2014 drove selection in a population of green anole lizard. 

The  NOAA's GOES-East satellite captured the 2014 polar vortex hovering over the United State's southeast.

The  NOAA’s GOES-East satellite captured the 2014 polar vortex hovering over the United State’s southeast.

The researchers behind that study were able to survey the population of lizards before and after the weather event, and found that the surviving population of lizards had many of the genetic qualities in northern populations of the same species. For example, the surviving lizards had an abnormally high tolerance for cold weather in that region.

Aside from these two studies, there isn’t much known about how fast-acting extreme weather events change animal populations on a large scale. 

But with extreme weather events becoming more and more common as human-caused climate change continues, it’s likely that the common agents of natural selection will shift toward those which influence survival during these catastrophes. 

“The key to this study is understanding that natural selection is on-going and is constantly in the background,” Donihue said

The next step? Muñoz suggests going back to the island a year later and measuring the new generation of lizards to see if this natural selection has truly translated into evolution. 

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Scientists may have just found a lake of liquid water on Mars

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  • Scientists from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Bologna may have found a lake of liquid water on Mars.
  • Satellite data suggests the water might lie underneath the surface of a polar ice cap.
  • The researchers used radar to probe the ice cap, and their new study suggests the potential lake could be 20 kilometers long.

We’ve heard it before — there may be a major source of water on Mars, in ice sheets that lie just under the red planet’s. But according to a new study published in the journal Science, liquid water may exist there, too.

Researchers from the National Institute for Astrophysics in Bologna in Italy used a radar tool on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express satellite to probe the planet’s ice caps. They believe three years’ worth of data indicates there could be a lake of liquid water under the caps that stretches 20 kilometers across.

The team, led by Roberto Orosei, said this may be the first time scientists have found liquid water that can remain in a liquid state for a prolonged period of time, rather than freezing. Elsewhere on the red planet, it is too cold for water to remain a liquid — Mars’ average temperature is -81 degrees Fahrenheit (-62 degrees Celsius).

"If these researchers are right, this is the first time we’ve found evidence of a large water body on Mars," Cassie Stuurman, a geophysicist at the University of Texas who found signs of an enormous Martian ice deposit in 2016, told the AP.

Searching for Martian water

In their paper, the researchers suggested that the lake could lie about 1.5 kilometers below the ice cap’s surface. But they are not yet certain whether there is really a lake there or how deep it could be. Until a human expedition or more sophisticated Rovers can investigate the polar region further, we won’t know for sure. But for now, liquid water seems to be the most likely explanation for what researchers observed.

"I really have no other explanation," Orosei told the AP.

Radar detection has proved unreliable for gathering information about Mars in the past. But after reprogramming the radar tool on the Mars Express satellite — called the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding, or MARSIS — radar pulses were able to penetrate the surface of the ice caps.

The tool measured how radio waves traveled and behaved when traveling through Mars’ ice caps, then the satellite beamed that information to Earth. This gave the team an idea of the composition under the ice caps.

Time was also not on the researchers’ side, however. They had to wait for the satellite to be in the right place to observe the caps at night time, a position that has only occurred 30 times in three years.

Liquid water would have major implications for life on Mars and future human settlements

Orosei told New Scientist that a combination of calcium, magnesium, and sodium salts on Mars can lower water’s freezing point, which might explain the possibility of a liquid lake.

If it exists, there’s also hope that the water could potentially host life.

"It is not a place where life would be expected to have an easy time, but it is possible based upon terrestrial analogues," Orosei told New Scientist. The analogues he’s referring to are places on Earth that researchers have used to mimic Mars environments to test conditions in which microbes could survive.

Finding a source of liquid water on Mars would also be exciting for the prospect that the red planet could one day host a human settlement. Both Elon Musk and NASA have released plans to send humans to Mars, maybe as soon as the 2030s.

But there are huge barriers to any colonization efforts, such as growing enough food and recycling waste. Pre-delivered supplies and habitats could sustain human life on the barren surface for a year or two, some experts say, but long term colonization is a different matter. Researchers have even highlighted concerns about how reproduction would work on Mars, should a self-sustaining settlement ever arise there, since life in space has dramatic effects on people’s health.

Despite all these challenges, it’s exciting that there could be an underground reservoir of water on Mars. Perhaps it could be tapped as a resource, or maybe it harbors undiscovered clues about alien life. 

Plus, as Orosei said in a statement, this discovery may be a clue that Mars has other hidden bodies of water that are still waiting to be found. 

"This is just one small study area; it is an exciting prospect to think there could be more of these underground pockets of water elsewhere, yet to be discovered," he said.

SEE ALSO: Scientists found accessible ice sheets on Mars, and it could be a ‘game-changer’ for colonizing the planet

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: What it’s like to pretend to live on Mars for 8 months

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YD Design Storm #3

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The YD Design Storm takes a look at products, services, and spaces that are storming the internet. The idea? To turn internet-storming material into brainstorming material! Scroll down for our collection of handpicked works from design websites, portfolios, and social media. Get inspired, save projects, pin images, or share links with fellow design enthusiasts!

Watch this space for your digest of design brain-fodder… and an ever-evolving map of design trends!

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By Brum Brum.

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By KHBT Architects.

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By Igor Sirotov.

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By Kamina & C.

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By Mara Paris.

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By Otília Erdélyi.

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By Dimitar Palanski.

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By Schwarzmann.

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By Guilherme Wentz.

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By Arqmov Workshop.

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I’m Quantitative Futurist Amy Webb, and This Is How I Work

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Photo: Mary Gardella Photography

Futurist Amy Webb has led the Future Today Institute since today…was the future. That sounds less profound than we hoped, but Webb’s work is profound. Since Webb founded it in 2006, Future Today has analyzed trends in culture and technology for clients including Microsoft, American Express, Univision (Lifehacker’s current parent company), the White House, and the Federal Reserve. She’s also published two books and given the TED talk “How I Hacked Dating.” We talked to her about the perfect carry-on bag, differences between media technology around the world, and the method her Institute uses to efficiently break up their work day.


Location: NYC
Current Gig: Quantitative futurist, professor of Strategic Foresight at NYU Stern School of Business, founder of the Future Today Institute
One word that best describes how you work: Methodically
Current mobile device: Samsung S9
Current computer: Mac Pro

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

In sixth grade, I joined our middle school Future Problem Solvers of America team, and without realizing it I began my work as a futurist when I was just 11 years old. In college I took a multidisciplinary course of study, which included economics, game theory, political science, computer science and music.

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After graduating, I worked as foreign correspondent in China and Japan and spent my 20s living at the epicenter of emerging technologies like smartphones and haptic screens, and I was seeing early, nascent successes with machine learning. When I moved back to the U.S., I had a difficult time fitting back in to a traditional newsroom environment. I was convinced that news needed a radically different business model to sustain quality journalism—but I grew tired of apathy towards emerging tech, so I quit.

I secured seed funding to start an R&D lab for news and media, and my focus was on exploring and building new digital distribution techniques. As my team experimented with new prototypes, I became interested in much broader topics beyond journalism—like how the third era of computing (AI) would impact every facet of everyday life, how technology influenced the geopolitical balance, and how our data might become a primary driver of the economy. I wanted to model and map plausible scenarios for what that future might look like, and that’s when a colleague pointed me to the work of early futurists like Robert Jungk and Alvin Toffler, and of the quantitative modeling developed by Olaf Helmer and Nicholas Rescher. I took classes in strategic foresight, read everything I could get my hands on, and pivoted in 2006, when I started the Future Today Institute. I’ve been working full-time as a quantitative futurist ever since.

I now teach foresight at NYU’s Stern School of Business, and my students are incredibly bright and creative. I also write—I’m finishing my third book now. It’s a manifesto about how the “Big Nine” tech titans are shaping the future of AI. (They are Google, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba.) My most recent book, The Signals Are Talking, explains my foresight methodology and explains how to use the tools of a futurist to see over the horizon.

Webb on mic at WDET
Photo: Amy Webb

Take us through a recent workday.

Every day at work is different—sometimes I’m at the office, but often I’m on the road—so I’ll offer you two recent workdays.

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On the road: One of our clients is a global petroleum company, and I worked on-site with a team of 15 people to map near-future risk/opportunity scenarios. We began the session with a deep dive into the Future Today Institute’s forecasting methodology and an explanation of the different dimensions of disruption. Then we mapped weak signals—issues that help us identify emerging changes own the horizon. That was followed by intensive hands-on work. The session lasted about seven hours. I caught a red-eye home after we finished.

At the office: I’m completing my next book. On book writing days, I get to my office by 7am and write until 4pm, without taking any breaks. Then from 4pm – 7pm I’m in meetings and answering email.

How do you focus for 9 hours without breaks?

The way I stay focused for so long—I think—is a combination of the brown noise, my earphones, and the exercise ball I sit on instead of a regular chair. I get up to use the washroom, of course, and I usually snack on nuts and dried fruit.

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Turning off my phones and keeping social media and email locked away have meant a tremendous surge in productivity. I don’t believe in multitasking. In my case, the quality of my work is degraded when I try to do more than one thing at a time. Knowing that there won’t be outside interruptions—tweets, texts, Slack pings—has allowed me to center my entire focus on just one, singular task.

What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?

I listen to brown noise on Spotify. I’ve experimented with different sounds and music, and because I’m more sensitive to higher frequencies, brown noise helps me focus intensively. It’s amazing how well it works. I listen on Jabra Elite 65t bluetooth noise cancelling earbuds. When I’m writing, I use the Desktop Curtain to block out all distractions.

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Because of my intense travel schedule, I spent many years searching for the perfect bag—one that could carry all my gear, plus an extra pair of shoes and a water bottle. For me, Tumi Sheppard Deluxe Brief Pack is just right. It has a sleeve that lets me secure it to my suitcase, which means that I’m no longer carrying anything heavy on my back.

Webb’s dual-monitor setup
Photo: Amy Webb

What’s your workspace setup like?

I have two monitors—one vertical, one horizontal. Everything that’s office or communication-related (Slack, calendar, email) goes on the vertical monitor and stays active. All of my writing happens on the horizontal monitor.

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My office is covered in Idea Paint. We converted one entire wall, top to bottom, into a whiteboard surface. Many of the other surfaces are made of glass, allowing us to write with whiteboard markers wherever we need to, whether that’s on the windows, tables or chairs.

What’s your best shortcut or life hack?

It’s something I learned from Ben Franklin: get the big, gnarly hard work out of the way first, when your mind is fully charged.

Take us through an interesting, unusual, or finicky process you have in place at work.

Our workdays are divided into 20-minute units, and we use math to set every part of our schedules. We keep telephone calls/video calls to 1 unit, and most of our administrative meetings are 2 units. Certain strategy work takes 12 units. We’ve found that blocking out the day in units has resulted in much better and more realistic time management.

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The 20-minute system is something that I developed for myself in college. I worked two jobs and was at one point attempting five majors, so I had to make every single minute of every day count. (I even had to optimize my sleep, because during my junior year I was only able to get four hours at a time.)

I found that dividing the day into hours didn’t allow me to get everything done—I’d either set my expectations way too low or too high. The hour convention works well for groups who need to tell time, but I don’t think it works as well for productivity. For example, I learned that if I have 40 minutes rather than an hour to complete a task, I’m likely to focus and work harder. Meetings that last an hour tend to include a lot of wasted, unproductive moments. The 20-minute unit system is definitely an adjustment for people who work with me.

Who are the people who help you get things done, and how do you rely on them?

Our team is distributed—we work out of spaces in many different cities and don’t have a central physical hub. Collectively, we can’t function without our director of operations, Cheryl Cooney. She is the engine that keeps me, and the Future Today Institute, running. She manages and executes all of the decisions that don’t require my direct involvement.

How do you keep track of what you have to do?

We have a three-tiered system of delegation: immediate, the next few days, and longer-term. We allocate in advance the number of units required to complete all of these tasks. We’ve experimented with various task management software, like Trello and Asana, but ultimately I’ve found that a combination of Slack, Google docs and a physical notebook works best for me.

Webb’s Tumi Sheppard Deluxe backpack
Photo: Amy Webb

How do you recharge or take a break?

I break a sweat daily—usually spinning or jogging. Paradoxically, wearing myself out exercising is the best way to recharge. I also try to get outdoors at some point during my work day, to take a walk to just sit in the sun for a few minutes.

What’s your favorite side project?

I consult on TV shows and movies, helping talented show runners, writers, producers and production staff see the future. Most recently, I worked with Beau Willimon and his team on The First, which is his upcoming series on Hulu and portrays members of a team of astronauts as they become the first humans to visit Mars. It’s set in the year 2031 and it stars Sean Penn and Natascha McElhone.

What are you currently reading, or what do you recommend?

I just finished Borne by Jeff VanderMeer and am currently reading The Power by Naomi Alderman. They are both terrific.

Who else would you like to see answer these questions?

Michio Kaku.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My mentor, MJ Ryan, taught me to work incrementally. Mountains are climbed by taking a series of steps. With each and every project, I need to think about all of the steps first, without losing sight of the summit. She’s trained me to think about the present and future simultaneously.

What’s a problem you’re still trying to solve?

My goal is to democratize the tools of futurists, and to get every decision maker to think more about the farther future. America is a country of “nowists”—that’s a problem I have yet to solve.

Answers have been lightly edited and links have been added.

The How I Work series asks heroes, experts, and flat-out productive people to share their shortcuts, workspaces, routines, and more. Have someone you want to see featured, or questions you think we should ask? Email Nick.

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Tomorrow’s transplant organs could come from human-pig hybrids

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Mike Theiler / Reuters

With a lion’s head full of gnashing teeth sitting atop the body of a goat and a snake for a tail, the Chimera of Greek mythology is a terrifying sight — and that’s before it starts breathing fire. Chimera have long served as cautionary touchstones in popular culture, often as examples of humanity’s foolhardy quest to control nature. Take for example the tragic tale of Nina Tucker from Fullmetal Alchemist, the residents of The Island of Dr. Moreau or Sorry to Bother You’s genetically-engineered slave race of Equi Sapiens. But in the medical field, chimera — real life human-animal hybrids — could hold the key to solving the global shortage of transplantable organs.

Modern transplant technology is already pretty miraculous. Doctors can transfer anything from faces to hands to genitals between patients, keep lungs breathing in transportation pods and allow preemies to finish developing in external wombs.

Our ability to treat the human body like a fleshy Mr. Potato Head only works if all the bits and pieces being swapped are human in origin. And despite there being 7 billion potential donors available on the planet at any given moment, the world faces a persistent shortage of viable organs. Between the widespread adoption of seatbelts and motorcycle helmets, there simply aren’t enough spare body parts available for everybody who needs them. But that’s where ManBearPig comes in — well, pigs and man at least.

Thanks to their anatomical and metabolic similarity to humans, pig organs have been used in xenotransplantation — the practice of moving organs from one species into another — since the technique’s founding more than a century ago (by French surgeon Mathieu Jaboulay). In 1906, Jaboulay pioneered the technique by moving a pig’s kidney to one woman and a goat’s liver into another. Neither patient survived. This is because while human-to-human transplants will instigate a reaction by the immune system leading to the body rejecting the new organ, pig-to-human transfers crank the immune response up to 11, sending it into “hyperacute rejection.” For more than 100 years, that overwhelming DEFCON 1 reaction to organs from other species has prevented xenotransplants from regular use.

In fact, despite a rush of interest and funding throughout the 1990s, the rejection issue and fears that viruses could make the leap between porcine and human genomes all but ended research into xenotransplantation. Pharmaceutical giant Novartis was looking to invest more than a $1 billion during that time but ended up shuttering its xenotransplant efforts after years of setbacks.

However, recent advancements in genetic engineering — including CRISPR technology and the rise of more potent immunosuppressant drugs — have revitalized the field and could help eliminate both of those technical roadblocks. With the aid of CRISPR technology, scientists can deactivate potential genome-hopping viruses called porcine endogenous retroviruses, or PERVs, as well as drastically reduce the host’s immune response.

At a 2017 meeting of the International Xenotransplantation Association, a number of research teams showed off the results of their recent research efforts. “What we thought was very far away seems to be coming to the near future,” Muhammad Mohiuddin, a cardiac-transplant surgeon at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told Science.

A team from Emory University in Atlanta announced it had managed to keep a kidney from a transgenic pig host stable in the body of a rhesus macaque monkey for 400 days — 150 days longer than the previous record. Similarly, a research group from the University of Munich announced it was able to double the post-op survival record for a pig-to-baboon heart transplant to 945 days. What’s more, Chinese biotechnology startup eGenesis announced that same year that it had cloned 37 PERV-free piglets, though only 15 of them survived infancy.

The threat of novel viruses aside, the biggest hurdle to overcome in xenotransplantation remains convincing the human body not to reject its donor organs. “If you put a baboon heart into a baboon, and you gave no immunosuppressive therapy, would survive about a week,” Dr. David K.C. Cooper, co-director of the Xenotransplantation Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, told Engadget. “It would be the same, human-to-human. But if you put a pig heart into a baboon, it’s going to survive about five minutes, and that is because we [apes] carry antibodies against pigs.”

Basically, as soon as the donor organ is connected to the patient’s body and is re-perfused with blood, antibodies bind to the antigens on the pig organ, and it immediately undergoes rejection. This immune response evolved initially to protect us from harmful bacteria seeking to colonize our gut, but those bacteria possess the same “targets” as pig organs, Cooper explained, so the body rejects them.

There are, however, a couple genetic-engineering techniques that can help sidestep that issue. Cooper’s lab will receive its first “triple-knockout pig” in the second week of August. As the name implies, these pigs have had three genes that control the expression of surface antigens forcibly silenced, which should reduce the chances of rejection as well as the need for so many immunosuppressive drugs. Scientists have found 20 more genes that play supporting roles in antigen expression, though research into the optimal mix of silenced and expressed genes is just getting underway.

The human body doesn’t rely on antibodies alone to defend itself. “There are known molecules in human organs that protect ourselves from various insults,” Cooper explained. “For example, if we get an infection, then we activate those antibodies bodies that bind to those infectious organisms and they destroy the organism” in what’s known as a complement cascade.