1890 in science
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- September 25 – Sequoia National Park created in the United States.
- October 1 – Yosemite National Park created in the United States.
- Walter Heape successfully breeds rabbits from fertilised ova transferred from the biological mother to the uterus of an animal of a different breed.
- Francis Galton announces a statistical demonstration of the uniqueness and classifiability of individual human fingerprints.
- Jacques Loeb publishes his first major work on tropism, Der Heliotropismus der Thiere und seine Uebereinstimmung mit dem Heliotropismus der Pflanzen.
- Henry Luke Bolley at the new North Dakota Agricultural College isolates the organism responsible for potato scab and develops an effective treatment.
- Nikolai Menshutkin discovers that a tertiary amine can be converted into a quaternary ammonium salt by reaction with an alkyl halide – the Menshutkin reaction.
- Emil Fischer establishes the stereochemistry and isomeric nature of the sugars by epimerization between gluconic and mannonic acids and synthesizes glucose, fructose and mannose from glycerol.
- June 1 – The United States Census Bureau begins using Herman Hollerith's tabulating machine to record census returns using punched card input, a landmark in the history of computing hardware. Hollerith's company eventually becomes IBM.
- The United States city of Boise, Idaho, drills the first geothermal well.
- The phosphate mineral messelite (from Messel in Germany) is first described.
- Philippa Fawcett is placed above the Senior Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos at the University of Cambridge in England.
- P. J. Heawood proves the five colour theorem.
- Giuseppe Peano is the first to demonstrate a space-filling curve.
- Discovery by Emil von Behring and Kitasato Shibasaburō that an anti-toxin for immunizing people against diphtheria can be prepared by injecting diphtheria toxin into animals.
- Curt Schimmelbusch invents the Schimmelbusch mask for the safe delivery of anesthetics to surgical patients.
- Santiago Ramón y Cajal publishes the first edition of Manual de Anatomia Pathologica General.
- Robert Koch publishes his postulates on the causal relationship between microbes and diseases.
- William James publishes The Principles of Psychology.
- May – Herbert Akroyd Stuart, in collaboration with Charles Richard Binney and Richard Hornsby & Sons, files a British patent for Improvements in Engines Operated by the Explosion of Mixtures of Combustible Vapour or Gas and Air, the first successful design of hot bulb engine, which will be produced as the heavy-oil Hornsby-Akroyd oil engine.
- August 6 – At Auburn Prison in New York, William Kemmler becomes the first person to be executed in the AC electric chair.
- October 9 – The first brief flight of Clément Ader's steam-powered fixed-wing aircraft Eole takes place in Satory, France. It flies uncontrolled approximately 50 m (160 ft) at a height of 20 cm, the first take-off of a powered airplane solely under its own power.
- Approximate date – British civil engineer Ernest William Moir invents the airlock while working in New York.
- The precut paperboard box is invented by Robert Gair, a Brooklyn printer and packaging producer.
- The Hurter and Driffield film speed measurement system is described.
- January 14 – Arthur Holmes (died 1965), English geologist.
- March 11 – Vannevar Bush (died 1974), American science administrator.
- March 20 – Elizabeth Rona (died 1981), Hungarian-born nuclear chemist.
- May 4 – Carl Brigham (died 1943), American pioneer of psychometrics.
- December 20 – Jaroslav Heyrovský (died 1967), Czech chemist.
- December 21 – Hermann Joseph Muller (died 1967), American geneticist.
- February 3 – C. H. D. Buys Ballot (born 1817), Dutch meteorologist.
- August 30 – Marianne North (born 1830), English botanist.
- December 26 – Heinrich Schliemann (born 1822), German archaeologist.
- Heape, Walter (1890). "Preliminary Note on the Transplantation and Growth of Mammalian Ova within a Uterine Foster-Mother". Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. 48: 457–8. JSTOR 115017.
- Galton, Francis (1891). "The Patterns in Thumb and Finger Marks – On Their Arrangement into Naturally Distinct Classes, the Permanence of the Papillary Ridges that Make Them, and the Resemblance of Their Classes to Ordinary Genera". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 182: 1–23. doi:10.1098/rstb.1891.0001. JSTOR 91733.
- Menschutkin, N. (1890). "Beiträgen zur Kenntnis der Affinitätskoeffizienten der Alkylhaloide und der organischen Amine". Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie. 5: 589.
- Menschutkin, N. (1890). "Über die Affinitätskoeffizienten der Alkylhaloide und der Amine". Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie. 6: 41.
- Fischer, Emil (1890). "Synthese des Traubenzuckers". Berichte der deutschen chemischen Gesellschaft. 23: 799–805. doi:10.1002/cber.189002301126.
- Muthmann, W. (1890). "Kürzere Originalmittheilungen und Notizen: Messlit, ein neues Mineral". Zeitschrift für Kristallographie, Kristallgeometrie, Kristallphysik, Kristallchemie (in German). Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft. 17: 93–94.
- Crilly, Tony (2007). 50 Mathematical Ideas you really need to know. London: Quercus. ISBN 978-1-84724-008-8.
- Waldman, Thomas A. (2003). "Immunotherapy: past, present and future" (PDF). Nature Medicine. 9 (3): 269–277. doi:10.1038/nm0303-269. PMID 12612576. Retrieved 10 March 2005.
- "Schimmelbusch Mask". Park Ridge, Illinois: Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology. 2011. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- British Patent 7146. "The Akroyd Oil Engine". Ray Hooley's – Ruston-Hornsby – Engine Pages. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-31.
- Crouch, Tom D. "Clément Ader". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Gray, Carroll (1998–2003). "Clement Ader 1841–1925". Flying Machines. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
- Gibbs-Smith, Charles H. (1959). "Hops and Flights: A Roll Call of Early Powered Take-offs". Flight. 75: 468. Retrieved 2011-03-03.