1856 in science
- May 20 – Dr David Livingstone arrives at Quelimane on the Indian Ocean having completed a 2-year transcontinental journey across Africa from Luanda.
- Thomas Montgomerie of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India makes the first survey of the Karakoram Range, from Mount Haramukh, 210 km (130 miles) to the south, and designates the two most prominent peaks as K1 and K2.
- August 23 – Eunice Newton Foote's paper on "Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun's rays" read at the American Association for the Advancement of Science presents the causes of the greenhouse effect.
- October 4 – American meteorologist William Ferrel demonstrates the tendency of rising and rotating warm air to pull in air from more southerly, warmer regions and transport it poleward.
- September 22 – British metallurgist Robert Mushet patents improvements to the Bessemer process for the production of steel.
- English agricultural engineer John Fowler first demonstrates his steam-driven agricultural ploughing system.
- English engineer John Ramsbottom invents a tamper-proof spring safety valve for steam locomotives.
- French chemist Alphonse Louis Poitevin invents the collotype photographic process.
- Tinsmith Ralph Collier of Baltimore, Maryland, patents the first egg beater with rotating parts.
- Sarrusophone patented.
- Approximate date – Bandoneon invented.
- February 15 – Emil Kraepelin (died 1926), German psychiatrist.
- May 6
- July 10 – Nikola Tesla (died 1943), Serb inventor.
- August 27 – Hans Christian Cornelius Mortensen (died 1921), Danish ornithologist.
- September 14 – Sergei Winogradsky (died 1953), Russian microbiologist.
- December 18 – J. J. Thomson (died 1940), English physicist and Nobel laureate in physics.
- February 24 (February 12 Old Style) – Nikolai Lobachevsky (born 1792), Russian mathematician and geometer.
- February 25 – George Don (born 1797), Scottish botanist.
- July 9 – Amedeo Avogadro (born 1776), Italian chemist.
- August 24 – William Buckland (born 1784), English geologist and paleontologist.
- November 20 – Farkas Bolyai (born 1775), Hungarian mathematician.
- November 21 – James Meadows Rendel (born 1799), English civil engineer.
- December 23/24 – Hugh Miller (born 1802), Scottish geologist (suicide).
- date unknown – Enriqueta Favez (born 1791), Swiss physician and surgeon.
- "Feldhofer". The Smithsonian Institution's Human Origins Program. 30 January 2010. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
- Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa, with Accounts of the Manners and Customs of the People, and of the Chace of the Gorilla, Crocodile, and other Animals (1861).
- Petrunkevitch, Alexander (1920). "Russia's Contribution to Science". Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Sciences. 23: 233.
- Garfield, Simon (2000). Mauve: How One Man Invented a Colour that Changed the World. London: Faber. ISBN 0-571-20197-0.
- UK Patent office (1857). Patents for inventions. UK Patent office. p. 255.
- Pasteur (1856). "Note sur le sucre de lait" (Note on milk sugar), Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences, 42:347-351.
- "Central Africa, explored". Unimaps.com. 2005. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
- Curran, Jim (1995). K2: the Story of the Savage Mountain. London: Hodder & Stoughton. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-340-66007-2.
- Ferrel, W. (1856). "An essay on the winds and the currents of the Oceans". Nashville Journal of Medicine and Surgery. 11: 287–301.
- Holtz, Thomas R. (2004). "Tyrannosauroidea". In Weishampel, David B.; Dodson, Peter; Osmólska, Halszka (eds.). The Dinosauria (2nd ed.). Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 114. ISBN 0-520-24209-2.
- Darcy, H. (1856). Les Fontaines Publiques de la Ville de Dijon. Paris: Dalmont.
- van Dulken, Stephen (2001). Inventing the 19th Century: the great age of Victorian inventions. London: British Library. p. 30. ISBN 0-7123-0881-4.
- Bonnett, Harold (1972). Saga of the Steam Plough. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0715357425.
- "Safety Valve, Ramsbottom Valves". Henley's Encyclopedia of Practical Engineering. New York: The N. W. Henley Publishing Co. 1908. Retrieved 2009-06-13.
- U.S. Patent 16,267 .
- "Copley Medal | British scientific award". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 23 July 2020.