Dr. Michael Day

Michael Day

Professor Emeritus of Physics

Email: day@lvc.edu

B.S., University of Idaho; M.A., Ph.D., University of Nebraska (Philosophy); M.S., Ph.D., University of Nebraska (Physics)

Theoretical physics (specializing in anharmonic solids); History and philosophy of science

I have two doctorates: one in physics and one in philosophy. My book, The Hope and Vision of J. Robert Oppenheimer (World Scientific Publishing, 2015), is augmented by thirty-plus publications in theoretical physics (specializing in anharmonic solids), the history and philosophy of science, and the teaching of physics. During the last several years, my focus has been on the views of American Cold War physicists on science and society with extensive work on Robert Oppenheimer, I. I. Rabi, and E. U. Condon.  For this research, I was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2010. Most rewarding, as a professor of physics, I have had the opportunity of teaching and working with students for over 30 years. In addition, I worked for Shell Oil as a geophysicist in its international division (Africa and South America groups) and spent one year teaching physics and philosophy at Nanjing University in China.  In 1999, I received the Vickroy Award, my college’s highest award for excellence in teaching.


  • The Hope and Vision of J. Robert Oppenheimer (World Scientific Publishing, October 2015)




  • Hardy R, Day M, Shukla R, and Cowley E, “Uncorrelated-Factors Approximation and a Comparison of Theories for Predicting Thermal Properties: Lennard-Jones Solid,” Physical Review B, Vol. 49, 1994
  • Day M and Walker M, “Experimenting with the National Guard” (cover story), The Physics Teacher, Vol. 31, 1993
  • Hardy R, Day M, Souders J, Birrel I, and D’ Angelis T, “Correlated-Factors Theorem for the Free Energy of Anharmonic Solids with and Application to the S4-Model,” Physical Review B, Vol. 47, 1993
  • Day M and Hardy R, “Estimation of Expectation Values Formed with Jastrow Wave Functions, Physical Review B, Vol. 37, 1988
  • Hardy R and Day M, “Correlated Particles Expansion through Third Order: The Lennard-Jones Solid,” Physical Review B, Vol. 37, 1988
  • Hardy R and Day M, “Correlated Particles Expansion Applied to Hard Sphere Solid,” Journal of Chemical Physics, Vol. 86, 1987
  • Day M, Varga M, Bacon M, and Edwards D, “Window Heating by a Pulsed Laser: Focal Lengths and Rise Times,” Applied Optics, Vol. 26, 1987
  • Bacon M, Johnston W, and Day M, “Experiments in Differential Light Scattering of Fluids,” European Journal of Physics, Vol. 7, 1986
  • Day M and Hardy R, “Alternate Monte Carlo Algorithm Applied to the Lennard-Jones Solid,” Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids, Vol. 49, 1985
  • Hardy R and Day M, “Correlated Einstein Model for the Equilibrium Properties of Solids,” Physical Review B, Vol. 29, 1984
  • Day M and Hardy R, “Linear Correction Terms for the Cluster Expansions for Quantum Solids,” Journal of Low Temperature Physics, Vol. 52, 1983

History of Science and Philosophy

  • Grieve-Carlson G and Day M, “MacLeish, Oppenheimer, and ‘The Conquest of America’,” Soundings, Vol. XCIII, 2010
  • Day M, Book Review of Oppenheimer: The Tragic Intellect by Charles Thorpe, American Studies, Vol. 50, 2010.
  • Day M, “Oppenheimer and Rabi: American Cold War Physicists as Public Intellectuals” in The Atomic Bomb and American Society: New Perspectives (edited by R. Mariner and G. Piehler, University of Tennessee Press, 2009)
  • Day M, “E. U. Condon: Science, Religion, and the Politics of World Peace,” Physics in Perspective, Vol. 10, 2008
  • Day M, “Book Review: J. Robert Oppenheimer: Good Times – Hard Times,” Metascience, Vol. 16, 2007
  • Day M, “I. I. Rabi: The Two Cultures and the Universal Culture of Science,” Physics in Perspective, Vol. 6, 2004
  • Day M, “Book Review: The One Culture? A Conversation about Science,” Physics in Perspective, Vol. 4, 2002
  • Day M, “Oppenheimer on the Nature of Science,” Centaurus, Vol. 43, 2001
  • Day M, “Book Review: Atomic Fragments – A Daughter’s Questions,” The Physics Teacher, Vol. 39, 2001
  • Day M, “The No-Slip Condition of Fluid Dynamics,” Erkenntnis, Vol. 33, 1990
  • Day M, “Adams: On Theoretical Reduction,” Erkenntnis, Vol. 23, 1985
  • Day M, “An Axiomatic Approach to First Law Thermodynamics,” Journal of Philosophical Logic, Vol. 6, 1977
  • Day M, “The Pragmatics of Scientific Laws,” Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences,” 1974-1976
  • Day M, “Adams: On the Reduction of Rigid body Mechanics to Particle Mechanics,” Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences, 1973
  • Day M, “A Comment on Lehrer’s Analysis of Knowledge,” The Philosophical Forum (Boston University), Vol. IV, 1972-1973


  • Day M, “Boosting Student Vocabulary,” The Physics Teacher, Vol. 57, 2019.
  • Light K, Todd D, DeHart L, and Day M, “Women in Physics: A High School-College Interaction, “The Physics Teacher, Vol. 40, 2002.
  • Hollingsworth T and Day M, “Physics as Service,” (cover story) The Physics Teacher, Vol. 38, 2000
  • Day M, “Book Review: History and the Idea of Progress,” Bridges (An International Journal of Theology, Philosophy, History, and Science), Vol. 3, 1996
  • Day M, Norton J, Specht S, and Thompson W, “Society and Its Weapons: A Multidisciplinary Course,” The Physics Teacher, Vol. 34, 1996
  • Good W, Day M, and Downer W, “Applying the Discourse Method,” The National Honors Report, Vol. 13, 1987


Major Honors and Awards

  • Fellow of the American Physical Society (elected Nov. 2010). Citation by APS Forum on the History of Physics – “For his thoughtful research, publications, and public presentations on the views of Oppenheimer, Rabi, and Condon concerning science and society.”
  • Vickroy Distinguished Teaching Award (LVC, 1999)
  • Phi Beta Kappa (University of Idaho, 1969)
  • Sigma Pi Sigma (Physics Honorary, University of Idaho, 1969)