If Julian Assange is famous for one thing besides leaking a bunch of secret documents through his website Wikileaks, it's his hair. Those ethereal, silver locks that made him look like an elf from Lord of the Rings: They're gone!

Amidst increasing criticism of his plan to release 15,000 more Afghanistan documents—potentially "more explosive" than the last batch—Assange appeared on Swedish television today, And he had a radical new 'do: close-cropped and boring brown, save a Leno-esque silver streak down the middle.

If Assange's hair seems a trivial thing to fix on given the heady subject matter he was discussing, consider the role it plays in the Assange mythology. Raffi Katchadourian's New Yorker profile on Wikileaks places special emphasis on Assange's "spectral white hair." We learn that it turned white, "drained of color," after a particularly stressful custody battle with an ex-wife, according to his mother. And a scene in which Assange is so busy he begs a friend to cut his hair while he's working shows how dedicated he is to his mission of radical transparency.

So if Assange's weird hair was a symbol of his single-mindedness and the physical remnant of past trauma, what to make of this new, pretty square haircut? Maybe he's getting bored with this whole alien-journalist shtick and has his heart set on a Dancing with the Stars appearance?

[Top pic via TED]