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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/881

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

Birds from the Himalaya Mountains," the figures of a small collection of birds which were then rare and little known in Great Britain. He then undertook the "Birds of Europe," on a similar plan, which was finished, in five large folio volumes, in 1837. In 1838 he made extensive journeys in Australia and the neighboring islands, and collected specimens for the "Birds of Australia," a work which he gave to the public in seven folio volumes, in 1848, and which contained much that was new on the range and habits of sea-birds. The "Birds of Asia," "Mammals of Australia," and "Birds of Great Britain," which followed, were on the same comprehensive plan, and revealed the same thoroughness of preparation and accuracy in the representation of typical specimens as the previous works. Besides these great undertakings, Mr. Gould was the author of monographs on the toucans, the trogons, the humming-birds, the ant-thrushes of the Old World, the partridges of America, and the birds collected during the voyage of the Beagle by Mr. Darwin, for all of which, as well as for the larger works, he prepared the original designs, from which the splendid colored plates—constituting "the most beautiful series of pictures of animal life which have yet been produced"—were executed.

 

The New Mineral, Peckhamite.—Professor J. Lawrence Smith has found a new meteoric mineral in the analysis of the great meteorite which fell in Emmett County, Iowa, in May, 1879, and has named it Peckhamite. He describes it as decidedly different from any mineral he has seen associated with meteorites. It is a silicate of iron and magnesia, opalescent, of a light greenish-yellow color, of greasy aspect, and cleaves readily. In two or three specimens the mineral projected from the outer surface of the stone, with a dingy-yellow color and a fused exterior. It differs widely in structure from olivine, which was abundant in the stone. Professor Smith states, as an additional fact concerning the meteorite, that its fall was attended by a shower of fragments like hailstones, of which several thousand, varying from the size of a pea to five hundred grammes in weight, have been picked up. All the smaller pieces are lumps of nickeliferous iron, and even the larger ones have but little stony, material attached. They lay on the wet prairie for nearly a year, and are yet not at all rusted; many parts are still bright, and some look like nuggets of platinum.

 

Quarantine and Systematic Medical Inspection.—The "Lancet" denies that there is any value in the ordinary practice of quarantine. The reasoning on which the system is founded is plausible and seductive, but it is impossible to make it practically efficient. Contraband—the secret escape of infected persons and goods through the lines—is one of its commonest accompaniments, and most often defeats its purpose. "Moreover, in all great extensions of disease, the initial extension has generally occurred before the danger was anticipated, and the imposition of quarantine has taken place after the mischief which it was designed to avert had been accomplished." Quarantine is generally credited with having prevented the extension of the recent plague from the Volga to Europe, but wrongly; though enforced, it did not prevent the conveyance of the pest from Persia to Russia; and it had no effect upon the transmission of the disease from the Volga, for the plague had practically ceased to prevail before any measure of quarantine was adopted. It has been, in fact, an evil, both on account of its futility and because it has diverted attention from a true means of preventing infectious disease. "In so far as it may have contributed to a clearer knowledge of the conditions under which the isolation of persons and things is desirable and may be advantageous, and of the hygiene of ships and of masses of persons, such as pilgrims and emigrants, journeying both by sea and by land, quarantine may indirectly have yielded certain advantages, but advantages wholly disproportionate to the cost at which they have been gained, and which were attainable in a much simpler and more effective fashion." England and Denmark have ceased to rely upon quarantine as a protection against infection, though they still keep up the forms in order to obviate disabilities that would be imposed on their shipping by other governments which adhere to the practice. The system of medical inspection