Christian Doppler

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Christian Doppler
Christian Doppler.jpg
Born (1803-11-29)29 November 1803
Salzburg, Austria
Died 17 March 1853(1853-03-17) (aged 49)
Venice, Italy
Nationality Austrian

Prague Polytechnic

Academy of Mines and Forests
University of Vienna
Known for Doppler effect

Christian Andreas Doppler (/ˈdɒplər/; 29 November 1803 – 17 March 1853) 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. He used this concept to explain the color of binary stars.


Doppler was born and raised in Salzburg, Austria, the son of a stonemason. He could not work in his father's business because of his generally weak physical condition. After completing high school, Doppler studied philosophy in Salzburg and mathematics and physics at the k. k. Polytechnisches Institut (now Vienna University of Technology) where he began work as an assistant in 1829. In 1835 he began work at the Prague Polytechnic (now Czech Technical University), where he received an appointment in 1841.

Doppler's birth house in Salzburg, just next door to where Mozart's family had lived. A Doppler research-and memorial society is now housed there. [1]
House in Prague in which Christian lived from 1843 to 1847

Only a 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.[2] 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 tried to use this concept for explaining the colour of binary stars. In Doppler's time in Prague as a professor he published over 50 articles on mathematics, physics and astronomy. In 1847 he left Prague for the professorship of mathematics, physics, and mechanics at the Academy of Mines and Forests (its successor is the present day University of Miskolc) in Selmecbánya (then Kingdom of Hungary, now Banská Štiavnica, Slovakia),[3][4] and in 1849 he moved to Vienna.[5]

Doppler's research was interrupted by the revolutionary incidents of 1848. During the Hungarian Revolution, he fled to Vienna. There he was appointed head of the Institute for Experimental Physics at the University of Vienna in 1850. During his time there, Doppler, along with Franz Unger, played an influential role in the development of young Gregor Mendel, known as the founding father of genetics, who was a student at the University of Vienna from 1851 to 1853.

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[6] is just inside the entrance of the Venetian island cemetery of San Michele.[7]

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.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Eden, Alec (1992). The search for Christian Doppler. Wien: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-82367-0 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ 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
  • 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.
  • 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.

External links[edit]