1774 in science
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- Johann Elert Bode discovers the galaxy Messier 81.
- Lagrange publishes a paper on the motion of the nodes of a planet's orbit.
- Italian physicist Abbé Bonaventura Corti publishes Osservazioni microscopiche sulla tremella e sulla circulazione del fluido in una pianta acquajuola in Lucca, including his discovery of cyclosis in plant cells.
- French physician Antoine Parmentier publishes Examen chymique des pommes de terres in Paris, analysing the nutritional value of the potato.
- August 1 – Joseph Priestley, working at Bowood House, Wiltshire, England, isolates oxygen in the form of a gas, which he calls "dephlogisticated air".
- Antoine Lavoisier publishes his first book, a literature review on the composition of air, Opuscules physiques et chimiques.
- Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovers "dephlogisticated muriatic acid" (chlorine), manganese and barium.
- Second voyage of James Cook
- June 16/17 – English explorer Captain Cook becomes the first European to sight (and name) Palmerston Island in the Pacific Ocean.
- September 4 – Cook becomes the first European to sight (and name) the island of New Caledonia in Melanesia.
- October 10 – Cook becomes the first European to sight (and name) Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean, uninhabited at this date.
- P.-S. Laplace publishes Mémoire sur la probabilité des causes par les événements, including a restatement of Bayes' theorem.
Medicine and physiology
- William Hunter's Anatomia uteri humani gravidi tabulis illustrata | The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus exhibited in figures is published by John Baskerville in Birmingham, England.
- Sugita Genpaku's Kaitai Shinsho ("New Text on Anatomy"), based on a Dutch publication, is published with illustrations in Japan, the first modern anatomy textbook produced there.
- The Schiehallion experiment is carried by Nevil Maskelyne out to determine the mean density of the Earth.
- John Wilkinson patents a method for boring cannon from the solid, subsequently utilised for accurate boring of steam engine cylinders.
- Jesse Ramsden produces an advanced circular dividing engine with the support of the Board of Longitude.
- Copley Medal: Not awarded
- April 21 – Jean-Baptiste Biot (died 1862), French physicist.
- April 24 – Jean Marc Gaspard Itard (died 1838), French otorhinolaryngologist.
- April 28 – Francis Baily (died 1844), English astronomer.
- May 7 – Francis Beaufort (died 1856), Irish-born hydrographer.
- May 28 – Edward Howard (died 1816), English chemist.
- August 18 – Meriwether Lewis (died 1809), American explorer.
- September 26 – John Chapman (died 1845), American nurseryman.
- November 12 – Charles Bell (died 1842), Scottish-born anatomist.
- December 12 – William Henry (died 1836), English chemist.
- February 4 – Charles Marie de La Condamine, French geographer (born 1701)
- May 1 – William Hewson, English surgeon, anatomist and physiologist, "father of haematology" (born 1739)
- July 9 – Anna Morandi Manzolini, Italian anatomist (born 1714)
- Hughes, Arthur (1959). A History of Cytology. London: Abelard-Schuman. p. 41.
- Priestley, Joseph (1775). "An Account of Further Discoveries in Air". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. London. 65: 384–94. doi:10.1098/rstl.1775.0039. JSTOR 106209.
- McGrayne, Sharon Bertsch (2011). The Theory That Would Not Die. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-16969-0.
- "An account of Observations made on the Mountain Schehallien for finding its attraction". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (London) 6 July 1775.
- Harris, J. R. (2004). "Wilkinson, John (1728–1808)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2011-01-14. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- Boorstin, Daniel J. (1983). The Discoverers: a history of man's search to know his world and himself. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-40229-4.
- Daumas, Maurice (1953). Les Instruments scientifiques aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.