1883 in science
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- August 26 – Krakatoa begins its final phase of eruptions at 1:06pm local time. These produce a number of tsunami, mainly in the early hours of the next day, which result in about 36,000 deaths on the islands of Sumatra and Java. The final explosion at 10:02am on August 27 destroys the island of Krakatoa itself and is heard up to 3000 miles away.
- Vasily Dokuchaev publishes Russian Chernozem.
- Thomas Clouston publishes Clinical Lectures on Mental Diseases.
- Emil Kraepelin publishes Compendium der Psychiatrie.
- Journal of the American Medical Association first published under this title.
- May 24 – Brooklyn Bridge opens to traffic in New York. Designed by John A. Roebling with project management assisted by his wife Emily, its main suspension span of 1,595 feet 6 inches (486.31 m) exceeds the previous record by 330 feet (100 m), and will not be surpassed for twenty years.
- Charles Fritts constructs the first solar cell using the semiconductor selenium on a thin layer of gold to form a device giving less than 1% efficiency.
- January 4 – Johanna Westerdijk (died 1961), Dutch plant pathologist.
- May 13 – Georgios Papanikolaou (died 1962), Greek-born cytopathologist, inventor of the Pap smear.
- June 24 – Victor Francis Hess (died 1964), American physicist.
- October 2 – Karl von Terzaghi (died 1963), Austrian "father of soil mechanics".
- October 8 – Otto Heinrich Warburg (died 1970), German physiologist and winner of the 1931 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
- April 28 – Rev. John Russell (born 1795), English dog breeder.
- May 13 – James Young (born 1811), Scottish chemist.
- June 18 – John Waterston (born 1811), Scottish physicist and civil engineer (drowned).
- June 26 – General Sir Edward Sabine (born 1788), Anglo-Irish physicist, astronomer and explorer.
- December 8 – François Lenormant (born 1837), French assyriologist and numismatist.
- "Svante August Arrhenius". Chemical Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 27 October 2016.
- Bowden, Mary Ellen (1997). "Svante August Arrhenius". Chemical achievers : the human face of the chemical sciences. Philadelphia, PA: Chemical Heritage Foundation. pp. 32–34. ISBN 9780941901123.
- Galton, Francis (1883). Inquiries into Human Faculty and its Development. London: Macmillan. p. 199.
- Reynolds, Osborne (1883). "An experimental investigation of the circumstances which determine whether the motion of water shall be direct or sinuous, and of the law of resistance in parallel channels". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. 174: 935–982. doi:10.1098/rstl.1883.0029. JSTOR 109431.
- Rott, N. (1990). "Note on the history of the Reynolds number". Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics. 22 (1): 1–11. Bibcode:1990AnRFM..22....1R. doi:10.1146/annurev.fl.22.010190.000245.