Almost daily, the Mars exploration rover known as Curiosity sends back pictures and scientific data from the Red Planet.
But imagine if one day, rather than yet another image resembling the above, the Rover sent back something like this:
It would be game over, right? You could pretty much forget about carbon isotopes and gas chromatographs and particle induced X-ray emissions, or the host of other complex experiments that seek out trace signatures of potential life-sustaining processes. Suddenly that would all be rendered meaningless. A minor detail. The big picture would be screaming out at humanity from across the Solar System.
About a year ago, a reader alerted us to this 2009 publicity picture of Bill Shatner (credit: "www.imagemakr.com-copyright-20091"). It was an image that threatened to become a proverbial cactus on Mars. Sub-toupular particles were irrelevant. For this, even a touposcope would temporarily prove unnecessary (unbelievable though it seems - though, of course, still useful for closer examination).
All that was required was to zoom in, and observe with one's own eyes...
Upon examining this image, the William Shatner School of Toupological Studies decided upon an extremely rare step. It convened a full sitting of its Grand Toupular Assembly (GTA), attended by the heads of all 2,143 departments at our research facility.
The major find was announced: what appeared to be an extremely rare malfunction of the usually extremely reliable "Denny Katz" toupee.
After basic examinations were complete, our toupologists finally fired up their touposcopes:
Somehow, the Denny Katz toup had failed. A thinned-out patch had emerged revealing the base netting attached to the head.
The pattern was unmistakable. A classic mesh. Oddly uniform for a toupee that prides itself on looking so natural.
Indeed, the toup also appeared to be moulting profusely.
Was Ed Katz letting standards slip? Or was this a rare defective toup? Or had Bill Shatner simply kept the thing on for too long? Even odder is that this image is from the controlled environment of a publicity shoot - the place where you'd least expect a toup malfunction to find its way out.
But, then again, this isn't the first time that such a lapse has occurred:
Back cover of the 1995 Bill Shatner book Ashes of Eden
How could a professionally created publicity photo feature a shirt littered with toup-particles (note the harsh cut edges on either side, unlike the more tapered look of natural hair), and even more shockingly a bare patch in the Denny Katz toup?
Toup-particle on shirt.
Perhaps even more curious is that this publicity image is still being used to this day - for example to publicize the upcoming January 2017 Star Trek Cruise, at which Bill Shatner is the star guest:
Of course, from a distance the picture can actually look quite natural - imperfections such as the visibility of the scalp and lack of follicular uniformity serving to make the toupee look more realistic.
But up close - yikes!!!
A reader sent in some up-close pics they managed to take of the lifts inside Bill Shatner's costume from Star Trek: The Motion Picture. On a related note, the book Return to Tomorrow: The Filming of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is available for purchase here. We're happy to give it a plug...