I was watching Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home for the six millionth time and suddenly understood what the metaphorical time travel sequence was trying to depict. If you’ll recall, this is the one where the crew of the late starship Enterprise travel back in time to find some humpback whales (extinct in the 23rd century) in order to stop an all-powerful probe from destroying the Earth after it had lost contact with the creatures. Near the end of the first time-travel sequence, a human figure is shown dropping towards the Earth, trailing some incandescent fire before finally splashing into the water. I never knew what the heck this was all about. I just figured Star Trek was being “trippy” again. But for the first time ever, I noticed that the figure was dropping straight down onto the Yucatan Peninsula in Central America. Then it clicked. 65 million years ago, a fairly large asteroid crashed down onto this part of Central America with devastating effect. More than 50% of all life forms on our planet—including the dinosaurs—were wiped out in a horrific holocaust of firestorms and bone-chilling nuclear winter. Viewed in this light, then, the human figure shown plunging into the Earth is quite obviously a metaphor for humanity’s cataclysmic potential—not just for whales, but for all life on Earth. Now, it only took me 15 years to get this. Am I slow on the uptake or what? Location 21°20'N, 89°30'W Diameter 170 km Age 64.98 million years This three-dimensional map of local gravity and magnetic field variations shows a multiringed structure called Chicxulub named after a village located near its center. The impact basin is buried by several hundred meters of sediment, hiding it from view. This image shows the basin viewed obliquely from approximately 60° above the surface looking north, with artificial lighting from the south. The image covers 88 to 90.5° west longitude and 19.5 to 22.5° north latitude. NASA scientists believe that an asteroid 10 to 20 kilometers (6 to 12 miles) in diameter produced this impact basin. The asteroid hit a geologically unique, sulfur-rich region of the Yucatan Peninsula and kicked up billions of tons of sulfur and other materials into the atmosphere. Darkness prevailed for about half a year after the collision. This caused global temperatures to plunge near freezing. Half of the species on Earth became extinct including the dinosaurs.