The year 1986 in science and technology involved many significant events, some not listed below.
Astronomy and space exploration
- January 24 – NASA Voyager 2 space probe makes first encounter with Uranus.
- January 28 – NASA Space Shuttle Challenger explodes on launch, killing all seven astronauts aboard. Their bodies are located by United States Navy divers on March 9.
- February 19 – The Soviet Union launches the Mir space station.
- March 8 – Japanese spacecraft Suisei flies by Halley's Comet, studying its UV hydrogen corona and solar wind.
- May – First reported methods for constructing a monoclonal antibody containing parts from mouse and human antibodies, a required first step toward the development of humanized antibodies used later as medical therapeutics (such as Infliximab).
- English epidemiologist David Barker proposes his fetal origins hypothesis.
- January 16 – The Internet Engineering Task Force, a standards organization that develops and promotes Internet standards, holds its first meeting, consisting of 21 United States government-funded researchers.
- January 19 – The first MS-DOS-based personal computer virus, Brain, starts to spread.
- April 3 – IBM unveils the PC Convertible, the first laptop computer.
- June 23 – Eric Thomas develops LISTSERV, the first email list management software.
- Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) is visualized by Mark Crispin.
- 3D printing is developed by Charles Hull.
- Pixar is founded.
- Summer – Kenneth Alan Ribet demonstrates proof of the ε-conjecture, subsequently known as Ribet's theorem confirming Gerhard Frey's suggestion that the Taniyama–Shimura conjecture implies Fermat's Last Theorem.
- Lawrence Paulson makes the first release of Isabelle (proof assistant).
- Lee Sallows introduces the alphamagic square.
- January 11 – The Gateway Bridge is opened in Brisbane, Australia, the world's largest prestressed concrete single box bridge.
- April 26 – Chernobyl disaster: An RBMK at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic reaches prompt criticality.
- December 23 – Rutan Voyager becomes the first aircraft to fly around the world without stopping or refueling, landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California after a nine-day trip piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager.
- Crafoord Prize in Geosciences: Gerald Wasserburg and Claude Jean Allègre
- Fields Prize in Mathematics: Simon Donaldson, Gerd Faltings and Michael Freedman
- Nobel Prizes
- Turing Award – John Hopcroft, Robert Tarjan
- Wollaston Medal for Geology – Claude Jean Allègre
- January 7 – Rex Wailes (b. 1901), English engineer and historian of technology.
- January 28
- Crew of United States Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-51-L:
- Dorothée Pullinger (b. 1894), French-born British production engineer.
- April 22 – Dame Honor Fell (b. 1900), English biologist.
- July 6 – William Rashkind (b. 1922), American cardiologist.
- July 21 – Zhang Yuzhe (b. 1902), Chinese astronomer.
- October 22 – Albert Szent-Györgyi (b. 1893), Hungarian physiologist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
- October 31 – Edward Adelbert Doisy (b. 1893), American biochemist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
- June 7 – Robert S. Mulliken (b. 1896), American physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
- November 25 – Sir Ivan Magill (b. 1888), British anesthesiologist.
- Jones, Peter T.; Dear, Paul H.; Foote, Jefferson; Neuberger, Michael S.; Winter, Greg (1986). "Replacing the complementarity-determining regions in a human antibody with those from a mouse". Nature. 321 (6069): 522–525. Bibcode:1986Natur.321..522J. doi:10.1038/321522a0. PMID 3713831.
- Waldman, Thomas A. (2003). "Immunotherapy: past, present and future". Nature Medicine. 9 (3): 269–277. doi:10.1038/nm0303-269. PMID 12612576. Archived from the original on March 3, 2009. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
- Barker, David; Osmond, C. (1986). "Infant mortality, childhood nutrition and ischaemic heart disease in England and Wales". The Lancet. London. 327 (8489): 1077–1081. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(86)91340-1. PMID 2871345.
- Leyden, John (January 19, 2006). "PC virus celebrates 20th birthday". The Register. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
- "1986". Retrieved January 25, 2013.
- Ribet, Ken (1990). "On modular representations of Gal(Q/Q) arising from modular forms" (PDF). Inventiones Mathematicae. 100 (2): 431–471. Bibcode:1990InMat.100..431R. doi:10.1007/BF01231195. hdl:10.1007/BF01231195.
- Frey, Gerhard (1986). "Links between stable elliptic curves and certain Diophantine equations". Annales Universitatis Saraviensis. Series Mathematicae. 1 (1): iv+40. ISSN 0933-8268. MR 0853387.
- Paulson, L. C. (1986). "Natural deduction as higher-order resolution". The Journal of Logic Programming. 3 (3): 237. arXiv:cs/9301104. doi:10.1016/0743-1066(86)90015-4.
- "alphamagic square". Encyclopedia of Science. Retrieved May 12, 2012.