COSMOS Episode 11: The Immortals (2014) examines the tenacity of life, the possibility that the seeds of life can spread from planet to planet or between solar systems, and the likelihood that we might one-day be able to communicate with an advanced form of alien life. The episode arcs through the full gamut of possibilities and limitations for life to sustain itself, spread to other worlds, and survive the dangers of deep-space travel. Neil DeGrasse Tyson describes the panspermia theory and gives a scenario wherein galaxies could be viewed as “world-making machines,” laying out the necessary foundations for life to arise as the galaxy goes through its own galactic evolution over the course of billions of years.
Origins: How Life Began (2004) is a NOVA documentary, hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, examining the rise of life on earth. In the video, Tyson strings together the best scientific evidence available into a tapestry chronicling the conditions for life to arise, the biochemical mechanisms by which it replicates, and the role natural selection plays in evolution. This documentary would be an excellent showing for the following classes: biology, astronomy, geology, history, and chemistry. Of the 40 questions on this documentary video guide, the overwhelming majority are higher-order in nature, with only a scattering of lower-level types. The concepts discussed include: spontaneous generation, extremophiles, cyanobacteria, biochemical interactions for life, elements needed for life, the Stanley Miller experiment, asteroid impacts, amino acid formation, impact energy and peptide formation, cellular replication, DNA, hydrothermal vents, photosynthesis, UV radiation, stromatolite colonies, and a functioning biosphere.