Christian Doppler

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Christian Doppler
Christian Doppler.jpg
Born(1803-11-29)29 November 1803
Died17 March 1853(1853-03-17) (aged 49)
Alma materImperial–Royal Polytechnic Institute
Prague Polytechnic
Known forDoppler effect
Mathilde Sturm
(m. 1836)
Scientific career
InstitutionsPrague Polytechnic
Academy of Mines and Forests
University of Vienna
Notable studentsGregor Mendel

Christian Andreas Doppler (/ˈdɒplər/ (German: [ˈdɔplɐ]); 29 November 1803 – 17 March 1853)[1] was an Austrian mathematician and physicist. He is celebrated for his principle – known as the Doppler effect – that the observed frequency of a wave depends on the relative speed of the source and the observer.


Portrait of Doppler in a 1907 copy of "Abhandlungen," no.161

Doppler was born in Salzburg (today Austria) in 1803. After completing high school, Doppler studied philosophy in Salzburg and mathematics and physics at the Imperial–Royal Polytechnic Institute (now TU Wien), where he became an assistant in 1829. In 1835 he began work at the Prague Polytechnic (now Czech Technical University in Prague), where he received an appointment in 1841.

Doppler's birth house in the Makart square in Salzburg, just next door to where Mozart's family had lived. A Doppler research-and memorial society is now housed there.[2]
Plaque on the house in Prague in which Doppler lived from 1843 to 1847

One year later, at the age of 38, Doppler gave a lecture to the Royal Bohemian Society of Sciences and subsequently published his most notable work, Über das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne und einiger anderer Gestirne des Himmels ("On the coloured light of the binary stars and some other stars of the heavens"). There is a facsimile edition with an English translation by Alec Eden.[3] In this work, Doppler postulated his principle (later coined the Doppler effect) that the observed frequency of a wave depends on the relative speed of the source and the observer, and he later tried to use this concept for explaining the visible colours of binary stars (this hypothesis was later proven wrong).

Physicist Armand Hippolyte Louis Fizeau (23 September 1819 – 18 September 1896) also contributed to aspects of the discovery of the Doppler effect,[4] which is known by the French as the Doppler-Fizeau Effect. Fizeau contributed towards understanding its effect with light and also developed formal mathematical theorems underlying the principles of this effect. In 1848, he predicted the frequency shift of a wave when the source and receiver are moving relative to each other,[4] therefore, being the first to predict blue shifts and red shifts of spectral lines in stars.[5]

Doppler continued working as a professor at the Prague Polytechnic, publishing over 50 articles on mathematics, physics and astronomy, but in 1847 he left Prague for the professorship of mathematics, physics, and mechanics at the Academy of Mines and Forests (its successor is the University of Miskolc[6]) in Selmecbánya (then Kingdom of Hungary, now Banská Štiavnica Slovakia).

Doppler's research was interrupted by the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. In 1849, he fled to Vienna[1] and in 1850 was appointed head of the Institute for Experimental Physics at the University of Vienna. While there, Doppler, along with Franz Unger, influenced the development of young Gregor Mendel, the founding father of genetics, who was a student at the University of Vienna from 1851 to 1853.[7]

Doppler died on 17 March 1853 at age 49 from a pulmonary disease in Venice (at that time part of the Austrian Empire). His tomb, found by Dr. Peter M. Schuster,[8] is just inside the entrance of the Venetian island cemetery of San Michele.[9]

Full name[edit]

Some confusion exists about Doppler's full name. Doppler referred to himself as Christian Doppler. The records of his birth and baptism stated Christian Andreas Doppler. Forty years after Doppler's death the misnomer Johann Christian Doppler was introduced by the astronomer Julius Scheiner. Scheiner's mistake has since been copied by many.[3]


  • Christian Doppler (1803–1853). Wien: Böhlau, 1992.
    • Bd. 1: ISBN 3-205-05483-0
      • 1. Teil: Helmuth Grössing (unter Mitarbeit von B. Reischl): Wissenschaft, Leben, Umwelt, Gesellschaft;
      • 2. Teil: Karl Kadletz (unter Mitarbeit von Peter Schuster und Ildikó Cazan-Simányi) Quellenanhang.
    • Bd. 2: ISBN 3-205-05508-X
      • 3. Teil: Peter Schuster: Das Werk.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Whonamedit – dictionary of medical eponyms".
  2. ^ "Visit Salzburg – Christian Doppler birthplace".
  3. ^ a b Eden, Alec (1992). The search for Christian Doppler. Wien: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-82367-6.
  4. ^ a b Houdas, Y. (April 1991). "[Doppler, Buys-Ballot, Fizeau. Historical note on the discovery of the Doppler's effect". Annales de Cardiologie et d'Angéiologie. 40 (4): 209–13. PMID 2053764.
  5. ^ William, Tobin (2014). "Fizeau, Armand-Hippolyte-Louis". Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers. Springer New York. pp. 725–726. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-9917-7_460. ISBN 978-1-4419-9916-0.
  6. ^ "Miskolci Egyetem - University of Miskolc". Archived from the original on 4 October 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  7. ^ "The Mathematics of Inheritance". Online museum exhibition. The Masaryk University Mendel Museum. Archived from the original on 15 March 2011. Retrieved 20 January 2010.
  8. ^ Schuster, Peter M. (2005). Moving the Stars – Christian Doppler: His Life, His Works and Principle, and the World After. Pöllauberg, Austria: Living Edition. ISBN 3-901585-05-2 (translated by Lily Wilmes; Webpage of the author)
  9. ^ Štoll, Ivan (1992). "Christian Doppler – Man, Work and Message". The Phenomenon of Doppler. Prague: The Czech National University. p. 28.

Further reading[edit]

  • Alec Eden: Christian Doppler: Leben und Werk. Salzburg: Landespressebureau, 1988. ISBN 3-85015-069-0
  • Hoffmann, Robert (2007). The Life of an (almost) Unknown Person. Christian Doppler's Youth in Salzburg and Vienna. In: Ewald Hiebl, Maurizio Musso (Eds.), Christian Doppler – Life and Work. Principle an Applications. Proceedings of the Commemorative Symposia in Salzburg, Salzburg, Prague, Vienna, Venice. Pöllauberg/Austria, Hainault/UK, Atascadero/US, pages 33 – 46.
  • David Nolte (2020). The fall and rise of the Doppler effect. Physics Today, v. 73, pgs. 31 - 35. DOI: 10.1063/PT.3.4429

External links[edit]