- Jacques-Barthélemy Micheli du Crest creates a spirit thermometer, making use of two fixed points, 0 for "Temperature of earth" based on a cave at Paris Observatory and 100 for the heat of boiling water.
- Émilie du Châtelet publishes Institutions de Physique, including a demonstration that the energy of a moving object is proportional to the square of its velocity (Ek = 1⁄2mv²).
- Louis Bertrand Castel publishes L'Optique des couleurs in Paris, including the observation that the colours of white light split by a prism depend on distance from the prism.
- February 17 – Horace Bénédict de Saussure, Genevan pioneer of Alpine studies (died 1799)
- March 28 (bapt.) – James Small, Scottish inventor (died 1793)
- June 27 – John Latham, English physician and naturalist, "grandfather of Australian ornithology" (died 1837)
- July 1 – Franz-Joseph Müller von Reichenstein, Austrian mineralogist and discoverer of tellurium (died 1825)
- August 26 – Joseph Michel Montgolfier, French pioneer balloonist (died 1810)
- September 29 – Thomas Percival, English reforming physician and medical ethicist (died 1804)
- December 24 – Anders Johan Lexell, Finnish-Swedish astronomer and mathematician (died 1784)
- unknown – William Smellie, Scottish naturalist and encyclopedist (died 1795)
- Smiles, Samuel (1879). Industrial Biography. p. 99.
- Hutton, Charles (1815). A Philosophical and Mathematical Dictionary: Volume 2. Weybridge, Surrey: S. Hamilton. p. 509.
- Williams, Hywel (2005). Cassell's Chronology of World History. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. p. 308. ISBN 0-304-35730-8.
- "Copley Medal | British scientific award". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 21 July 2020.