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Buys Ballot was the son of a Dutch Reformed minister, born in Kloetinge, Netherlands. He attended the Gymnasium at Zaltbommel and the Hogeschool (now University) of Utrecht. After receiving his doctorate in 1844, he became lecturer in mineralogy and geology at Utrecht; he added theoretical chemistry in 1846. In 1847 he was appointed professor of mathematics and from 1867 until his retirement he was professor of physics. Buys Ballot tested the Doppler effect for sound waves in 1845 by using a group of musicians playing a calibrated note on a train in the Utrecht-Amsterdam line. He died in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

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