NOVA Editor to Speak about Maya & Science TV at SUNY Potsdam

09.30.10

Evan Hadingham, the senior science editor for the award-winning PBS series NOVA, will give two fascinating talks about solving scientific mysteries and producing television shows in lectures sponsored by SUNY Potsdam’s Geology Club.

The author of such popular books on archaeology and prehistory as “Circles and Standing Stones,” “Secrets of the Ice Age” and “Lines to the Mountain Gods,” Hadingham is involved in every step from development to final script writing for NOVA, which is produced for PBS at WGBH in Boston.

“We are very pleased that we are able to offer this opportunity to our students. We screen NOVA programs in our classrooms, and have had class discussions on recent NOVA documentaries. Our students are excited to meet the man who makes science appealing to a mass audience through the NOVA programs, and to learn how one goes about reporting on controversial scientific topics,” said Dr. Robert Badger, chair of SUNY Potsdam’s Department of Geology.

The TV editor will present “Cracking the Maya Code: A Special NOVA Screening” at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14 in Stowell Hall Room 211 on the SUNY Potsdam campus. Hadingham will screen an episode of the award-winning television series and tell students, faculty and staff his own story of how he researched the background of the film.

The ancient Maya civilization of Central America left behind a riddle—an intricate and mysterious hieroglyphic script carved on stone monuments and painted on pottery and bark books. The invading Spanish burned the books and suppressed nearly all knowledge of how the script worked. This edition of NOVA presents the epic inside story of how archaeologists have succeeded in unlocking the script. The decipherment has since revolutionized our view of ancient Maya civilization and the mystery of why it collapsed, revealing a turbulent history of conquests, raids and dynastic rivalries spanning centuries.

Hadingham will share insights on the episode and will discuss his own recent travel to traditional Maya villages in the highlands of Guatemala where much surviving traditional lore still lingers today.

Additionally, Hadingham will give a lecture entitled “Science Television: The View from NOVA,” at noon on Friday, Oct. 15 in the Barrington Student Union Fireside Lounge.

In this informal meeting with students, he will discuss today’s rapidly changing media landscape and the challenge of reporting on science, and controversial topics like global warming in particular. Hadingham will talk about careers in science television and the craft of documentary storytelling. He’ll also show clips from recent NOVA shows and other programs to invite students to figure out what works and doesn’t on the small screen.

Both events are free and open to the public. Funding for the talks was provided by the offices of the Provost and the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at SUNY Potsdam.

Hadingham published his first book on early aviation as a teenager. He then developed a strong interest in archaeology and acquired a master’s degree in prehistory and archaeology from Sheffield University in England. His feature articles on the archaeology of Egypt, China, Greece, and the Americas have appeared in magazines like The Atlantic Monthly, Smithsonian, Discover and Reader’s Digest. His books include “Lines to the Mountain Gods,” “Early Man and the Cosmos,” “Secrets of the Ice Age” and “The Fighting Triplanes.”

In 1986, Hadingham was named a Macy Fellow in Broadcast Journalism at WGBH-TV in Boston, becoming the science editor for NOVA in 1988. From 1995 to 1998, he was the co-executive producer for the Discovery Channel series, Discover Magazine. Returning to NOVA in 1998 as senior science editor, Hadingham resumed responsibility for the science content of all NOVA’s original documentaries and co-productions. The shows he has produced for NOVA include “Search for the First Americans,” “Who Killed the Red Baron?” and “Decoding Nazi Secrets.”

For more information about the many events on SUNY Potsdam’s busy campus calendar, visit www.potsdam.edu/newsandevents.

Founded in 1816, and located on the outskirts of the beautiful Adirondack Park, The State University of New York at Potsdam is one of America’s first 100 colleges. SUNY Potsdam currently enrolls approximately 4,350 undergraduate and graduate students. Home to the world-renowned Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam is known for its handcrafted education, challenging liberal arts and sciences core, excellence in teacher training, and leadership in the performing and visual arts.