Scientists may have been celebrating the new administration since before Obama entered the Oval Office, but he is now an official recipient of one of the greatest honors in science: A species has been named after him. Caloplaca obamae, a newly-discovered lichen species, was found on California’s Santa Rosa Island during a 2007 survey of lichen diversity. Kerry Knudsen, lichen curator at the University of California, found and collected samples of the species during the final weeks of Obama’s campaign, so the lichen expert named the plant “to show my appreciation for the president’s support of science and science education.”
The superabundance of online medical information and direct-to-consumer drug ads on TV can be enough to stir the hypochondriac in all of us. But some legitimate (despite their skeptics) conditions, and the people who suffer from them, just can’t seem to get any respect. Looking at this list, we think part of the problem might be the you-can’t-be-serious quality of some of the names. Here‘s a few examples of “illnesses” that could really benefit from a name change:
Restless Leg Syndrome
“The first time I saw a TV commercial about Restless Legs Syndrome, I was pretty sure it was a spoof. I figured I had stumbled across a prime-time Saturday Night Live special and was seeing a well-done fake ad,” wrote Stephen Dubner on the Freakonomics Blog. RLS sufferers report tingling, burning, or numbing sensations in their legs that create an overwhelming need to move them. Trying to relax or keep the legs still only makes the symptoms worse. Though the cause of the RLS is unknown, experts estimate as many as 12 million Americans may have the condition.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Do the long winter months make you just sad? Or SAD? Sufferers can experience debilitating hopelessness and depression along with sleep and appetite changes that may be linked to lack of sunlight. Happily, many cases can be alleviated by light therapy (the glow of your computer screen doesn’t count). The National Mental Health Association estimates that half a million Americans suffer from SAD—though the ailment is especially hard to take seriously since nearly everyone not living on the equator can experience some version of the winter blues.