Xploration Earth 2050

Monday 26 October at 20:30

About the show

Tomorrow's world

What will the world look like in 2050? Where will advancements in science, technology, engineering, and math lead us?

This entertaining and informative series follows YouTube sensation, Joe Penna, as he travels around the world to meet leading scientists, inventors, technology leaders, futurists and even science fiction writers to make the leap from today’s cutting edge technologies to tomorrow's world.

From biomimcry to robotics, Joe explores a possible future which encompasses space tourism and the use of deep sea planes, to renewable energy sources such as underwater kites.

Amazing products include the incredible self-making bed, while advances in medicine, the military and agriculture lead Joe to examine what the future may hold.


The Millennium Seed Bank, the largest seed bank in world, is located at the Wellcome Trust Millennium Building, near London, England. So far they have successfully banked over 13% of the world's wild plant species.

3D printing is also known as ‘additive manufacturing’, which as the name suggests, uses additive processes in which layers of materials are successively produced and laid down under computer control.

The moon has over 200 holes, called lunar pits, which could be used to shelter astronauts in the future. The pits range in size from about 16.4ft (5 metres) across to more than 2,953ft (900 metres) in diameter.

One of the most famous examples of wearable tech, Google Glass, was developed by Google X, a facility in California dedicated to technological advancements. It launched in 2013 and featured a touchpad, camera and an LED illuminated display.

Cyborg is short for cybernetic organism. The term was first coined in 1960 when it was used in an article in Astronautics Magazine by scientist and musician Manfred Clynes and medical doctor Nathan S Kline.

Quadrotors are often known as drones. They are often used for military surveillance and reconnaissance, and most recently have been used for parcel delivery and press photography.

Influential American science fiction writer Stanley G Weinbaum’s short story, Pygmalion's Spectacles, is one of the earliest works to explore the concept of virtual reality. Weinbaum has a crater on Mars named after him.

3D printing has become invaluable in medical science, as with the help of MRI scans and X-rays, it’s now possible to map and create original, accurate organ models for use in pre-planning discussions before surgery.

A robot seal called Paro, created in 2004, has been used to help dementia patients in the UK. Used to encourage social behaviour in patients, they are also widely used in their parent country, Japan, and the companion robot has even been used to comfort earthquake victims.

The world's first off-the-shelf undersea residence, developed by US Submarine Structures, is called H2OME. It is made up of two fully-submerged floors and is available to anyone with a multi-million pound budget and a secure piece of the ocean floor to build on.

Ideas around robotic or autonomous cars have been developed since the 1920s, but the first really meaningful versions were unveiled in the 1980s with the Navlab and ALV projects, and the Eureka Prometheus Project of the 1980s and 1990s.


Xploration Earth 2050

Joe Penna

Jônatas de Moura Penna, better known as Joe Penna, was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 1987. He moved to the United States as a child and as he was unable to speak English when he first arrived, he spent a lot of his childhood looking at the internet. It wasn’t time wasted though; Joe is now a YouTube multi-millionaire.

Despite his parents’ expectations that their son would become a doctor, the teenage Joe had other ideas. He wanted to make videos, and his first online hit was a film of him completing a Rubik’s cube to the soundtrack of Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King from Peer Gynt, called The Puzzle. This low-budget outing became so popular that Joe decided to create another film, Guitar Impossible, which showcased him playing Mozart’s Overture to The Marriage of Figaro on an acoustic guitar (he returned to a Mozart theme in 2010 when he made Root Beer Mozart, an ingenious film of him playing the Overture from The Magic Flute on six root beer bottles).

Guitar Impossible was even more successful than The Puzzle and this prompted Joe to leave the University of Massachusetts, where he was studying medicine, to concentrate on creating online content and producing videos full time. After a stint as a cinematographer filming music videos and commercials in Boston, he headed to the bright lights of Los Angeles, where he still lives.

His YouTube channel, MysteryGuitarMan, was launched in 2006. Since then, Joe’s love of music, coupled with creative editing and production, has helped him to make films which have amassed fans from around the world. His channel is one of YouTube’s most successful.

Joe’s also branched out into directing commercials for national television in the US, including making adverts for McDonalds and Coca-Cola. He’s made the jump into television as a presenter too, as the frontman of Xploration Earth 2050.

Next on...

Episode 14, Series 2

Sunday March 15 at 21:00

Future of Weather Prediction

Host Chuck Pell visits a TV station to see how supercomputers are used to predict future weather events, also featured is a drone that flies into the heart of a tornado. 14/26

Episode 15, Series 2

Sunday March 15 at 21:30

Art Takes on the Future

Technology is revolutionising the way art is being produced, and this week Host Chuck Pell demonstrates that as he introduces us to works of art produced solely by computers. 15/26

Episode 16, Series 2

Saturday March 21 at 21:00

Plastic's Fantastic Future

Host Chuck Pell visits the world of plastic recycling where used plastic is converted into lumber, clothing, works of art, car parts and even homes. 16/26

Episode 17, Series 2

Saturday March 21 at 21:30

Living Spaces in Space

A child born in 2000 will most likely see people living on the moon and maybe even Mars, join host Chuck Pell as he visits training facilities for these future colonies. 17/26

Episode 18, Series 2

Sunday March 22 at 21:00

DNA and your Future

DNA, we all have it, and it's being used for a lot more than solving crimes. Could we get DNA from dinosaurs? Host Chuck Pell visits a lab where they've discovered fossilized proteins…

Episode 19, Series 2

Sunday March 22 at 21:30

New Frontiers in Soft Robotics

Host Chuck Pell discovers the new world of soft robotics, where robots are so human-like they can actually feel things. 19/26

Episode 20, Series 2

Saturday March 28 at 21:00

Stem Hits the Nation's Classrooms

The STEM initiative, which is designed to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math to the nation's schoolchildren, is getting a big boost from both the private and public…

Episode 21, Series 2

Saturday March 28 at 21:30

Powering the World With Renewables

The human race is in a race to find new sources of energy. Host Chuck Pell visits a Canadian co-op that where local residents invest in renewable energy sources and share the profits…

Episode 22, Series 2

Sunday March 29 at 22:00

Future Tech Defies Death

New technology is capable of things not thought possible a generation ago. Host Chuck Pell has a conversation in real-time with a hologram of a holocaust survivor. Thanks to new tech…

Episode 23, Series 2

Sunday March 29 at 22:30

New Frontiers in Sustainability

Sustainability is a word you're going to hear a lot more of on the road to 2050. Why waste when you can turn that waste into useable, environmentally friendly products? Host Chuck Pell…

Episode 24, Series 2

Saturday April 4 at 21:00

Exploring the New World of Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence, or 'AI', is all the rage among futurists. Is it good, bad, something to be worried about, or something to be embraced? Host Chuck Pell talks to leaders in the…

Episode 25, Series 2

Saturday April 4 at 21:30

The Sun Creates a Sunny Future

Solar power is the fastest growing power source in the world; in fact, it's a new industry creating tens of thousands of jobs. Host Chuck Pell learns how the eyes of moths are being…

Episode 26, Series 2

Sunday April 5 at 23:00

Future Tech Goes Back in Time

Future tech is bringing the past alive. Join host Chuck Pell as Virtual Reality technology recreates ancient cities. And laser scanning and video animation give new life to old fossils…

Episode 26, Series 2

Saturday April 11 at 21:00

Future Tech Goes Back in Time

Future tech is bringing the past alive. Join host Chuck Pell as Virtual Reality technology recreates ancient cities. And laser scanning and video animation give new life to old fossils…

BBC Earth

Be curious. Be inspired. Be amazed.

What's on now

Get it on...

South African audiences have access to five BBC TV channels: BBC Brit, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Earth, CBeebies and BBC World News.