The year 1979 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.
Astronomy and space exploration
- February 7 – Pluto enters a 20-year period inside the orbit of Neptune for the first time in 230 years.
- March 7 – The largest magnetar (soft gamma repeater) event is recorded.
- July 11 – America's first space station, Skylab, is deliberately allowed to burn up on atmospheric entry over the Indian Ocean.
- September 1 – The American Pioneer 11 becomes the first spacecraft to visit Saturn when it passes the planet at a distance of 21,000 km.
- December 24 – The maiden launch of Ariane 1, the first rocket in the Ariane launcher family.
- Amateur Achievement Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific given for the first time.
- Arthur William Baden Powell publishes New Zealand Mollusca.
- VisiCalc becomes the first spreadsheet program.
- The US Federal Government releases the initial, draft version of Ada (programming language), a strongly typed, comb-structured language with exception handlers, for embedded systems.
- The RISE project first discovers hydrothermal vents known as 'black smokers', on a mid-ocean ridge in the Pacific Ocean.
History of science
- Robert Gwyn Macfarlane publishes Howard Florey: The Making of a Great Scientist.
- 'Monstrous moonshine': John Conway and Simon P. Norton prove there is a connection between the Monster group M and the j-function in number theory.
- The first modern Sudoku, known as Number Place, appears in Dell Pencil Puzzles and Word Games (United States), devised by Howard Garns.
- August – The eating disorder Bulimia nervosa is first described and named by British psychiatrist Gerald Russell.
- December 9 – The World Health Organization certifies the global eradication of smallpox.
- The last naturally occurring cases of polio are reported in the United States.
- Tumor protein p53 is identified by Lionel Crawford, David Lane, Arnold J. Levine and Lloyd J. Old.
- March 1 – Philips publicly demonstrate a prototype of an optical digital audio disc at a press conference in Eindhoven, Netherlands.
- June 12 – Human-powered aircraft Gossamer Albatross, built by an American team led by Paul MacCready and piloted by Bryan Allen, makes a successful crossing of the English Channel to win the second Kremer prize.
- Nobel Prizes
- Turing Award – Kenneth E. Iverson
- January – Oscar H. Banker (b. 1895), Armenian American inventor.
- March 11 – Noël Poynter (b. 1908), English medical historian.
- March 17 – Henry Aaron Hill (b. 1915), American fluorocarbon chemist, first African American president of the American Chemical Society.
- April 5 – Eugène Gabritschevsky (b. 1893), Russian biologist and artist.
- May 6 – Karl Wilhelm Reinmuth (b. 1892), German astronomer.
- June 1 – Werner Forssmann (b. 1904), German physician, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
- September 26 – Sir Barnes Wallis (b. 1887), English aeronautical engineer.
- October 10 – Guido Fanconi (b. 1892), Swiss pediatrician.
- October 12 – Katharine Burr Blodgett (b. 1898), American physicist and chemist.
- Conway, J. H.; Norton, S. P. (1979). "Monstrous Moonshine". Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society. 11 (3): 308–339. doi:10.1112/blms/11.3.308.
- Pegg, Ed Jr. (2005-09-15). "Ed Pegg Jr.'s Math Games: Sudoku Variations". MAA Online. The Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved 2006-10-03.
- Russell, Gerald (August 1979). "Bulimia nervosa: an ominous variant of anorexia nervosa". Psychological Medicine. 9 (3): 429–48. doi:10.1017/S0033291700031974. PMID 482466.
- Palmer, Robert (December 2004). "Bulimia nervosa: 25 years on". British Journal of Psychiatry. 185 (6): 447–8. doi:10.1192/bjp.185.6.447. PMID 15572732.
- "Smallpox". WHO Factsheet. Archived from the original on 2007-09-21. Retrieved 2007-09-22.