Even among paleontologists it was not unknown. In 1956 a professor at Oregon State University, M. W. de Laubenfels, writing in the Journal of Paleontology, had actually anticipated the Alvarez theory by suggesting that the dinosaurs may have been dealt a death blow by an impact from space, and in 1970 the president of the American Paleontological Society, Dewey J. McLaren, proposed at the group's annual conference the possibility that an extraterrestrial impact may have been the cause of an earlier event known as the Frasnian extinction.
As if to underline just how un-novel the idea had become by this time, in 1979 a Hollywood studio actually produced a movie called Meteor ("It's five miles wide... It's coming at 30,000 m.p.h.—and there's no place to hide!") starring Henry Fonda, Natalie Wood, Karl Malden, and a very large rock.
So when, in the first week of 1980, at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Alvarezes announced their belief that the dinosaur extinction had not taken place over millions of years as part of some slow inexorable process, but suddenly in a single explosive event, it shouldn't have come as a shock.
But it did. It was received everywhere, but particularly in the paleontological community, as an outrageous heresy.
Well, you have to remember, Asaro recalls, "that we were amateurs in this field.