CHRISTIAN DOPPLER Biography - Famous Scientists


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Christian Andreas Doppler                                                                 
Born: 29 Nov 1803 in Salzburg, Austria                                                   
Died: 17 March 1853 in Venice, Italy                                                     
Christian Doppler's family were stonemason's who had a successful business in             
Salzburg, Austria from 1674. The prospering business led to the building of a             
fine house in the Hannibal Platz [now named Makart Platz] in Salzburg, near to           
the river. Christian Doppler was born in this family house and, of course, the           
family tradition would have had him grow up to take over the stonemason's                 
business. However his health was never very good and he was quite frail so he             
could not follow in the family tradition.                                                 
Doppler attended primary school in Salzburg and then attended secondary school           
in Linz. His parents were unsure of his academic potential and consulted the             
professor of mathematics at the Salzburg Lyceum who recommended that Doppler             
should study mathematics at the Vienna Polytechnic Institute. The Polytechnic             
Institute had only been founded in 1815, so it was still a new establishment             
when Doppler began his studies there in 1822. He excelled in his mathematical             
and other studies and graduated in 1825. After this he returned to Salzburg,             
attended philosophy lectures at the Salzburg Lyceum, then went to the University         
of Vienna where he studied higher mathematics, mechanics and astronomy.                   
At the end of his studies at the University of Vienna in 1829, Doppler was               
appointed as assistant to the professor of higher mathematics and mechanics at           
the University, Professor A Burg. He published four mathematics papers during             
his four years as Burg's assistant, his first being A contribution to the theory         
of parallels. This assistantship was only a temporary post and Doppler, rather           
older than most others, began to seek a permanent post at the age of 30. In [11]         
Seidlerova explains how applications worked at that time in Austria:-                     
From 1825 all vacant professorships at Austrian universities and polytechnics             
were filled by public competition. It actually meant admission examination,               
where the questions were determined ... The applicants at various schools of the         
monarchy had to answer them in written form, which could take up to twelve hours.         
Part of the examination was also a short probationary lecture on an arbitrary             
topic in front of the appointed commission. The sealed answers, together with an         
evaluation of the lecture, were then sent to the school where the competition             
had been announced.                                                                       
The final decisions were taken by the commission in Vienna but the applicants             
were only selected on their teaching ability, any sign of higher levels of               
knowledge would be treated as telling against the candidate. Doppler submitted           
himself to a number of these competitions, both for school and university places.         
He applied to schools in Linz, Salzburg, Gorizia and Ljubljana and for the chair         
of higher mathematics at Vienna Polytechnic and on 23 March 1833 for the                 
professorship of arithmetic, algebra, theoretical geometry and accountancy at             
the Technical Secondary School in Prague.                                                 
While this was going on Doppler had to earn his living and he spent 18 months as         
a bookkeeper at a cotton spinning factory. This was a period of sadness and               
great difficulty for Doppler and it is not surprising that he decided to give up         
the unequal struggle and emigrate to America. He began to sell his possessions           
and visited the American Consul in Munich to make the necessary arrangements.             
However, when he was close to making the final decision he received an offer of           
the post at the Technical Secondary School in Prague. It had taken a long time           
for the process of appointing to reach its conclusion and Doppler took up his             
post in March 1835, almost exactly two years after entering the competition.             
Doppler was ambitious and teaching elementary mathematics at the Technical               
School was not greatly to his liking. He tried for a post of professor of higher         
mathematics at the Polytechnic in Prague but without success. However, during             
1836-38 he was able to teach higher mathematics for four hours a week at the             
Polytechnic. This brought in extra money which he certainly needed since he               
married in 1836.                                                                         
Doppler did get another chance of a post at the Polytechnic, however, and at the         
end of 1837 the professorship in practical geometry and elementary mathematics           
became vacant. Doppler assumed the duties of the post but things were not that           
straightforward. Despite the fact that he was carrying out the duties, a                 
competition for the post was held on 3 October 1839. Doppler did not have to             
take part in the competition but was hurt by the fact that it was held at all.           
He was formally appointed to the post in March 1841.                                     
Doppler's time as the first Director of the Institute of Physics at Vienna               
University was a short one. He was appointed by Imperial Decree on 17 January             
1850. His health continued to deteriorate with severe chest problems and, in             
November 1852, he travelled to Venice in the hope that the warmer climate would           
bring about some improvement. It was not to be, however, and by March 1853 it             
was clear that he was sinking fast. Doppler's wife, who had given him staunch             
support throughout their marriage, had remained in Vienna with their three sons           
and two daughters awaiting his return but, on realising that his end was near,           
she made the journey to Venice and was with Doppler when he died.