1642 in science
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- Rundetårn astronomical observatory for the University of Copenhagen is completed, as is also the Panzano Observatory.
- 19-year-old Blaise Pascal begins to develop the Pascaline, the first practical mechanical calculator, initially to help with the recording of taxes.
- November 24 – Abel Tasman, Dutch explorer, is the first European known to sight Tasmania, which he names Anthoonij van Diemenslandt.
- December 13 – Tasman is the first European known to sight New Zealand.
- Opening throughout of the Briare Canal in France, the first summit level canal in Europe built using pound locks.
- The printmaking process of mezzotint is developed by Ludwig von Siegen.
- March (possible date) – Seki Takakazu, Japanese mathematician (died 1708)
- December 25 (OS) – Isaac Newton, English polymath (died 1727)
- Marguin, Jean (1994). Histoire des instruments et machines à calculer: trois siècles de mécanique pensante 1642-1942. Paris: Hermann. p. 48. ISBN 978-2-7056-6166-3.
- "Isaac Gilsemans Original Chart of the Discovery of Tasmania, 24 Nov. to 5 Dec. 1642". National Library of Australia. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-19.