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Christian Doppler - To please Mankind and to its Benefit

Category: Public Art, Artwork 29. March 2017

The Doppler effect, named after the physicist from Salzburg, Christian Doppler, is well known, not only from physics class in school. The phenomenon for which Doppler found a physical explanation is observable in daily life as well, for example when a loud vehicle drives by, its sound being distorted when approaching and when moving away.

According to physicist Christian Pruner from Paris Lodron University in Salzburg, for science and for mankind, the value of Doppler’s discovery cannot be overestimated. Until today, sixteen Nobel Prizes are based on the discovery of the scientist, who was born in 1803. Air traffic control, radar equipment, clinical diagnostics and a number of other technologies are founded on the Doppler effect.

Empirical evidence of the phenomenon described by Doppler could only be provided years after his discovery, as Doppler had no vehicle that was fast enough to make the effect audible. In 1845, Dutch scientist Christian Buys Ballot made several trumpeters play on a train, making it move by other musicians who then could –thanks to their trained hearing- perceive the distortion of sound. The same effect concerning light waves could only be verified about twenty years later.

On the occasion of the inauguration of Salzburg University’s laboratory building, the artist Alexander Steinwendtner created a sculpture dedicated to Christian Doppler that is now placed in front of the new building, honoring the scientist and inspiring the students, as Doppler had other groundbreaking achievements beyond his research. He had a professorship at Prague University and devoted himself intensively to teaching, he especially valued those sciences that pleased mankind and were beneficial to it at the same time.
In conception and formal design, Alexander Steinwndtner’s sculpture bears references to Doppler’s calculations of the characteristics of waves. He combines the material with the few photographs of Doppler that still exist today. Marbre from the Untersberg mountain near Salzburg was used for the two stone blocks separated by a wave area. The physicist Doppler was the descendant of a family of stone masons, and on top of that that there is a climbing route carved into the Untersberg mountain by his cousins, the Dopplersteig. (written by Wolfgang Haas, translation by Cem Angeli)

Christian Doppler Fonds |

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