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.

Get it on...

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