# Introduction to the doppler effect | Mechanical waves and sound | Physics | Khan Academy

What we’re going to do in
this video is think about two wave sources. But one of them is going to be
stationary and the other one is going to be moving. And just to have a concrete
number, it’s moving at 5 meters per second
to the right. And what we’re going to think
about is where are the crests of the wave that it’s
been releasing for the last 3 or 4 seconds? So let’s say that in both cases,
they are releasing a wave. So the velocity of the
wave is going to be 10 meters per second. You could visualize this, maybe,
as a sound wave, but sound and air move much, much,
much, much faster than 10 meters per second. But this’ll make the
math work out easy. Especially relative to this
guy, who is moving to the right at 5 meters per second. And that’s the whole point, to
give you the intuition and make the math really
simple here. And both of these guys are going
to be, the wave that they’re emitting is at
10 meters per second. And the period of the wave
is going to be at 1 second per cycle. And if the period is 1 second
per cycle, you take the inverse of that– the frequency
of the source, I guess you could call it, of the
wave, as being emitted is going to be the inverse
of this. The inverse of 1 is just 1. But 1 cycle per second. If it takes a second for a
cycle, it’s also in 1 second, you’re also going to see 1
cycle, so 1 cycle per second. So let’s think about what’s
happening here. So let’s think about where–
let’s say it emitted a crest of it’s a wave exactly
1 second ago. Where is that crest
going to be now? Let’s think about the stationary
character. Well, this guy emitted
a crest 1 second ago. It’s moving outward. So this is outward. It’s movie outward radially. We need to give a direction if
I’m giving a vector quantity. So it’s moving outward at
10 meters per second. So if it emitted it 1 second
ago, it’s going to be 10 meters radially outward
from the source. So maybe that is right
over there. Well, let me draw it a little
bit neater like that. So that’s where that
guy emitted 1 second ago? You might want to just draw a
radius 10 meters around this guy as well. But he wasn’t here
1 second ago. He was 5 meters to the left. Remember, he’s moving 5 meters
per second to the right. 1 second ago, he was 5
meters to the left. So maybe that places him
right over there. So the crest that he emitted 1
second ago isn’t going to be 10 meters from this guy. It’s going to be 10
meters radially outward from that guy. So this is where he is now. That’s where he was 1 second
ago, where he emitted this crest that has now traveled
10 meters away. This a little inexact,
so I could draw it a little bit like that. This is 5 meters. That’s 10 meters away. But you get the general idea. Now let’s keep going. Let’s think about the crest
that both of these guys emitted 2 seconds ago. This guy’s been stationary
the whole time. If he emitted it 2 seconds
ago, it’s traveling at 10 meters per second. It’s going to be 20 meters
radially outward from the center, from the source. So it will look something
like that. I’m just drawing the
crest of the waves. If you think of water, a pebble
being dropped into the pond, these are just the high
where the pebble was dropped. Now this guy, once again, you
can’t just draw a circle around this because he wasn’t
here 2 seconds ago. He was right here. He was right here
2 seconds ago. 1 second ago, he was 5
meters to the left. A second before that, he was
5 meters more to the left. So that wave that he emitted
then is going to be 20 meters radially outward from
this point. So the center isn’t going
to be that or that. It’s going to be that point
where he was 2 seconds ago. So what about the crest that
either of these of sources emitted 3 seconds ago? Well, it would be 30 meters
radially outward, so another 10 meters from the last one. So it will be out here. It will be out there
just like that. This guy has been stationary
the whole time. But what about this guy? He wasn’t here 3 seconds ago. He was here. Right? 1 second ago, here. 2 seconds ago, there. 3 seconds ago, there. So we’re going to be
30 meters radially outward from this point. So once again, I can just copy
and paste this right here. And it should be centered
around that point. Now, let’s think a little bit
about what the perceived frequency of this wave would be
for a couple of observers. So we could put an observer
here, really anywhere around this guy. We could put an observer
right here. And then we could put another
observer right here. Now, what’s this guy
going to perceive? Well, every second he’s getting
a pulse– well, there’s a couple of things
to think about. First of all, what is the
wavelength of, at least this wave right here. Well, every second, he’s
emitting a pulse. So, a second ago, the pulses
out there would have traveled 10 meters. And then he emits
another pulse. So the pulses are going to be 1
second apart, but since they traveled 10 meters in that 1
second, they are also going to be 10 meters apart. So the wavelength,
in this case, is going to be 10 meters. The distance between these
right here? It depends on what side, whether
the source is coming towards you or whether it’s
going away from you. That’s the situation
with this guy. When it’s moving towards you,
it’s emitting a pulse– so let’s say it emitted a pulse
right here– and then, it moves 5 meters to
the right before emitting the next pulse. So instead of them being 10
meters apart, in this case, this guy has closed
the distance by 5 meters over here. So these pulses are only going
to be 5 meters apart. So over here, the wavelength
is only 5 meters. You can see it visually. This distance right here is
half of this distance. These are 5 meters apart. And on the left-hand side, if
you’re on the side of the source that the source is moving
away from, it would be 10 meters, but every second the
source is also moving 5 more meters away from you. So this perceived wavelength
right here is going to be 15 meters. And we can see it visually. That’s the whole reason why
I drew it this way. Now what’s going to
be the perceived frequencies for this? Well, this guy has one crest
passing him right now. It’s going to take exactly 1
second for the next crest to get to him because
it’s traveling at 10 meters per second. So he is going to perceive 1
crest, or 1 cycle per second, or a frequency of 1 hertz,
which makes sense. This is stationary. They’re both stationary relative
to each other. And we’re also talking about
classical physics. We’re not getting to relativity
and all that. But the observed frequency is
the exact frequency that was emitted by this guy
meters apart for this guy. If you imagined that this was
some type of a train coming towards this guy, each of these
crests are only 5 meters apart, but they’re traveling
at 10 meters per second. So how many crests are you
going to see in a second? Well, you’re going to
see two of them. This one’s going to take 1/2 a
second to return you, and then in the next 1/2 a second, this
one’s going to get to you. Or you could say this one takes
1/2 second to reach you, and this is going to take
1 second to reach you. So you’re going to see two. So there’s two ways
to think of it. You could say your period in
this situation is 1/2 of a second per cycle. Or you could invert it and you
could say that the frequency– I mean we could put the observed
frequency– is going to be 2 cycles per second. And already notice, this guy’s
experiencing a higher frequency then this guy over
here, because these wave fronts or these crests are
just passing by him more frequently. Because this guy is moving in
the same direction as this guy, they are closer together. Now this guy’s going to
experience the opposite thing. Let’s say that this crest
is just passing him by. How long will it take for
the next crest to cover that 15 meters? Well, they’re going at
10 meters per second. It’s going to be 1.5 seconds per
crest. That’s going to be the observed period
for this guy. You have to take the inverse of
that– that’s 1.5 is 3/2, that’s 2/3 of a –or you could
say crest or 2/3 of a cycle per second. So when the source is moving
away from this observer, the frequency, or the perceived
frequency, is the lower than the frequency of the actual
emitted wave. When the source is moving towards the
observer, the frequency is higher. This might seem some like some
type of bizarre thing but you’ve experienced it before. It’s called the Doppler
effect, which you’ve probably heard of. And that’s exactly what you
experience when you sit at, maybe, a train crossing. Be careful not to
sit too close. And as a train is approaching
you, you noticed– say it has its horn going on. It’d be very high-pitched. And then right when it passes
you, and it starts moving away from you, it has a
much lower pitch. And that perceived pitch, that’s
frequency. So when the train is coming
toward you, it’s a high pitch, high frequency. When it’s going away from you,
low pitch, low frequency. And hopefully, drawing it out
this way gives you a visual understanding of why that is;
why these points on the cycle, or these crests, are closer
together when it’s moving in your direction then when they’re
farther apart– when it’s moving away from you. In the next video, we’ll do
these with more abstract numbers so we can actually
figure out generalized formulas for relating the
observed frequency with the emitted frequency.

## 88 thoughts on “Introduction to the doppler effect | Mechanical waves and sound | Physics | Khan Academy”

1. Duckski says:

so what the wave travles with the sorce? if so then nice demo

2. megaelliott says:

Well done Sal. I learned this in physics, but this is a much better explanation than my teacher gave.

3. espen180 says:

I'm looking forward to your take on the relativistic EM doppler shift.

@GabrielFane

"sonic boom", like Guile from Street Fighter 2?

5. Prakul K says:

@kjunaa

6. Prakul K says:

@kjunaa

7. boeing747200lr says:

Sal, that was a mind-blowing explanation!!!!! Thanks 🙂

8. Maloguh says:

@seabm4 Not directly to do with doppler, but i'm assuming he meant "red shift" 🙂

stars moving away appear to have a different color due to the doppler effect, because light has a wavelength as well. 😀

BIG BANG THEORY best show ever

10. skippykipper101 says:

You explain this so well!! Thank you!

11. Rasmus Ørndrup says:

That's exactly what you experience when you sit at, maybe, a train crossing. Be careful not to sit too close. XD

You sir are a genius, thanks..

12. Daniel Marcos says:

i just see boobs

13. Whitley says:

Thank you for doing this! This really helped me with my Science coursework. (:

I love you sal 😀 as hard it was in the book. U made it that much easier and understandable

15. Sarah Blackwell says:

life saver. you make studying so much easier

16. Saltuk KONDAKÇI says:

If you go faster then the crests you create you will trigger a sonic boom which means you go faster then sound.

17. Lan Pac says:

@schizophrenic123
it is not crap

18. johancool02 says:

This is the reason u hear things moving towards you more right? since the waves are closer to each other ?

19. johancool02 says:

Nvm my last comment he just explained it in the video lol

20. Tomas Erikssen says:

i may have come here, thanks to the big bang theory lol

21. Nick Corsi says:

thank godddddddddddd.

22. HickeyHickeyMan1 says:

the most embarrassing comment ever

23. extremerap says:

thanks!

24. TeKNiQ50 says:

lmao!

25. wackaer25 says:

are you an idiot?! the doppler effect helped prove the point of the universe expanding. but good attempt at sounding smart?

26. Just for fun says:

lol your an IDIOT!!! you clearly do not know what the Doppler effect is.

27. Tony Jones says:

Ummm…ever heard of Doppler's redshift and blueshift?

28. heyyitsmoi says:

It actually does. It's the Doppler Effect for LIGHT. A source moving away is said to be Red-Shifted, and this notion was at the basis of E. Hubble's discovery in the 1920s that the Universe is constantly expanding.

29. Jan Kuhn says:

WHAT GUY!!

30. DMRook says:

Yes it does actually. The Doppler Effect stretches out the wavelength of light until it reaches the red end of the spectrum, and eventually infrared; which means we can't see it. Which is why the sky is dark and we don't have constant light from stars.

31. Jóhann Hauksson says:

Yes it does, as further away stars in the universe move faster away from us their light particle wavelenghts are altered in accordance to the Doppler effect and therefore change into infrared light which is not detectable by the human eye ("shifted out of the visual spectrum").

32. Dawid Stasiak says:

It actually does… Get your facts right first then try to make someone feel stupid… right now you're just making your self look stupid, if you do not believe me, go to this video: watch?v=Kg9F5pN5tlI somewhere near the end you'll find the answer (if you are smart enough)

33. Narsil1000 says:

Your idea is called the Olbers' paradox. The cause is a different one. Namly that the waves take time to reach us and some stars are going to be so far away that their light just hasnt reached us yet. Because this kind of proves the big bang theory what you read was probably Hoyle trying to find another explanation to save the steady-state idea…

35. Émile Jetzer says:

It's linked to the relativistic Doppler effect.

It does stupid

37. WoahhItsBryan says:

You stole my explanation.

38. Sankalp Vinayak says:

Red Shift has to do with the doppler effect

39. Sunil Wijesinghe says:

SHELDON COOPER

40. Fin MacRae says:

Hahahahahaha

41. Fin MacRae says:

Vote up if you know what Sheldon cosplayed as at Pennys halloween party 😉

42. eindor10 says:

43. Rajat Kumar says:

Actually in a way the Doppler effect suggested the big bang theory , so yes it does !

44. Graham Haynes says:

Actually, you just heard that on the related Vsauce video.

45. A K says:

I dont understand a word he is saying

46. feloidea says:

so if i got this right: this is why ambulance sirens sound different whether they are moving towards you or a away from you AND why pictures of the andromeda galaxy are blue shifted, cause it's moving towards us, right?^^

47. DelijaZauvjek20 says:

For some that are confused about why the diagram to the right is different than the one to the left, imagine the left diagram being a pebble dropped into the pond that produces a ripple effect. Now, for the right diagram, imagine a bug that is drifting to the right. It is creating ripples in both directions of different frequencies 🙂

48. niasomin says:

Hubble observed that the further galaxies are from our point of observation in the universe, the faster they are moving away from us. To determine how fast they were moving away, he calculated the redshift of the light waves they emitted – more redshift, faster movement away. Redshift is essentially the same as the Doppler effect but for light – the wavelengths of light travelling away seem longer (more "red").
(shhh, I'm sure it's been said. just need to practice for tomorrow's exam 🙂 )

49. Aamir ali khan says:

Awesome explaination Sallu bhai, loved it !!

50. Dhiraj Khanal says:

I am extremely impressed! 🙂 thanks!!

51. Tspinnage says:

why is he moving to the left and then saying that it moves to the right? the moving source of waves? sorry new to psychics

52. James Wong says:

MH370

53. Paul Rienzo says:

This was great.  Thanks

54. Norzafi Mizan says:

I was expecting you to say "bye pitch, bye frequency". 🙁
Good video, totally understandable

55. Moheb mohi says:

Somebody HELP!!!
Why is the wavelenth constant, as we move away or toward, the frequency will change, why doesn't the wavelength change too ? where V=Wavelength x Frequency

Unable to understand this video, why frequency is remaining constant..

Good presentation

58. Samantha says:

Why are we going back in time with the one on the right? I don't understand this

59. Douchy69 says:

With regards to all waves other than light.
The doppler effect makes us ignore our understanding of basic relativity does it not?
Isn't this much easier explained as, the car is moving forward towards us, as the wave is. Speed of wave initial + Speed of car = Speed of wave @ us.
v=fλ, f=v/λ. Simply, since the wavelength is not changing (λ), but v (speed of the wave) is due to the speed of the car relative to us, we hear a higher frequency. Why does the doppler effect complete ignore this? Why does it make up a sort of compressing/stretching phenomenon that is exceptionally misleading, when by the time we learn the doppler effect, we've most likely already been educated on relativity, which I find explains what is happening sufficiently. Please point out where i'm wrong, this has been a very hard concept for me to understand because I believe it to be a fundamentally flawed explanation for SOUND waves.

60. Ricardo Torres says:

Thank you so much for this video! I wasn't able to completely understand the Doppler Effect.Or well, I couldn't understand why people said that when an object is moving towards you, the waves get closer. Thanks to this video now I understood everything. Thank you!

61. Fluffllama says:

"But he wasn't here 1 second ago" lol get r3kt

62. Juan Castillo says:

This beginning of the explanation is incorrect. The frequency of the waves should be increasing with respect to the observer we are moving to.

63. nirvana pinkfloyd says:

amazing i finally understand this. thank you

64. buzzonme says:

this would be confusing to some, especially the part where ut seem to be that the wave increases as the source moves away from the observer

65. Sakshi Agarwal says:

Thankyou soo much sir you are great.

66. Yash Mehan says:

Nice Video, Sir!
all of your videos are nice, so this comment doesn't make much sense, though. 🙂

67. Ashok K.V says:

the video sucks.bullshit

68. Bhavya Srivastava says:

Unable to understand anything

69. Maaheen Yasin says:

umm… I'm a bit confused in the video you said the source was moving 5m towards the right then why are we shifting the source towards the left plz explain me this why are we going back in time? and how can a crest be circular? isn't it like half of a sine wave?

70. Roja Kornana says:

Thank you that was useful

72. sumit kumar says:

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73. Anushree H says:

Got confused….are there 2 cases??

74. Miras Doktyrbek says:

really confusing

75. Surinder Singh says:

understood everything

76. marcus qua says:

great video!!!!!!!!!!!

77. Pragya Dhungana says:

You are really awful at making people understand

78. Sophie Hawley says:

this explained everything thank you!

79. Takudzwa Tandara says:

80. Takudzwa Tandara says:

81. Clarence Choy says:

You are better than my teacher

82. Social Norms says:

how is this "intro"

83. Animesh Srivastava says:

This is very well taught. Good Job !!

84. Rose B says:

im confused about the picture on the right

85. Amey Parundekar says:

At 3: 39 using pebble drop as an example for longitudinal waves(sound) is incorrect. Although I get the thought behind it; the fact is, longitudinal waves traverse in the same direction as the force applied whereas the waves created by a pebble drop traverse in a perpendicular direction to direction of the application of force.

86. Rose B says:

can someone please help me out here it looks what this is trying to say is if the source advances 5 meters per second to the right that means that one second ( before 1 second) the source was 5 meters to the left and at this time created a wave surrounding it( circle) with the source ( in this case the dot being in the center) but then also kinda of moved along in its own wave that it created ?

87. Francis Lin says:

First time I watched this video was 7 years ago when I was in elementary school trying to learn physics. Physics looked so fascinating to me back then. Now I am watching this as a college freshman studying sociology while learning physics as a requirement for science classes. What a strange cycle.

88. sagar kp says:

La explicación más sensata y detallada que he recibido …
Gracias