Now that David Weigel has blown the lid off America's most popular conspiracy theories, I've been knocked for a loop by one I thought had been settled long ago: the flag-based anomalies allegedly found in the famous picture of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing with Old Glory:
To the obvious question (especially popular, for obvious reasons, among non-Americans) of why the flag seems to be flying in a vacuum (or in the airless interior of Pinewood Studios), I've always responded with an obvious answer: As you can clearly see, there's a horizontal crossbeam that's holding the flag up. However, having come across the pic recently while reading Greg Klerkx's excellent if overargued Lost in Space: The Fall of NASA and the Dream of a New Space Age I can't actually say why the flag appears to be rippling. Did NASA engineers dye the flag with some kind of stiffening agent to make it look more robust? Is the flag still settling down from the motion of having originally been planted in the moon-dust (perhaps continuing to shake for a longer period due to the lack of air and 0.165 gravity)? And hey, which way is Buzz facing anyway?
Take a small step for man, and clear up this mini-mystery that I suspect may not even be worth the few minutes of thought I've put into it.