I remember asking what the fastest thing in the world was. I was once young and naive but ever curious. I was told that light was indeed the fastest thing in the world.

I remember when we would go camping. We would sit out together late at night, gazing up at the starry night sky. He’d point out that we are actually looking back in time because of how long it took light to travel from those stars. Light was fast, but not that fast.

I remember his explanation as to why we would probably never go to those stars: nothing, as far we know, could travel faster than light. He’d talk about the vastness of space, about the great distances between stars and galaxies. And that some of those stars were not stars at all: instead they were clusters of millions of stars, so far away that they appear as just one dot on the night sky.

I remember our admiration of the theory of evolution. How such a simple concept enlightened the way we think about life. We would talk about life itself and how insignificant we are. About how humans once thought the world was flat, when in fact it is round. About how we once thought we were the centre of the solar system or the universe, when in fact we are neither.

I remember our discussions of science and religion. He always sided with reason, not ‘gut feeling’, but would always argue both sides. He taught me to appreciate other people’s beliefs even if they were different to mine.

These discussions helped form who I am today. He helped nurture my love of science. More importantly, he taught me to always be open-minded, to think for myself, to always question, but at the same time, to be receptive to other opinions and beliefs.

These were all discussions with my Dad, who turns half a century today.

Happy birthday, Dad.

Thanks for being awesome.