St Magnus Cathedral must be one of the most striking buildings in the entire country. It’s certainly one of the oldest still in use, with construction having begun in 1137 when Orkney was not even part of Scotland.

Built from complimentary red and yellow sandstone, the ‘light in the north’ towers over everything else in Kirkwall.

Standing in front of its ancient doors, my head tilted back and my gaze angled upwards, it feels resolutely timeless, even anti-modern, in a way that few man-made objects ever manage.

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More than a historic building, the cathedral feels like an anchor in space and time, holding everything in place.

Once inside, the sense of scale is somehow further magnified by huge stone pillars, grand arches and vaulted ceilings that, like all good cathedrals, draw the eye – and with it, some feel, the spirit – ever upwards.

Something in the flow of the acoustics adds to the atmosphere, giving the sense of time slowing down and encouraging visitors – even heathens like myself – to stop and sit and contemplate.

But today I stepped through the doors, walked inside, and found something else sparking those feelings of awe and wonder; something that combines cutting-edge science with that timeless, wordless, and endless attraction to something bigger than ourselves.

I haven’t come here to find God – I’ve come to see the sun.

It floats above the ground right in the heart of the cathedral, churning and seething as it rotates before us. Even at first glance it is, in every sense of the word, amazing.

What I’m actually looking at is a collaboration between an artist, Alex Rinsley, and a scientist, Robert Walsh – a six-metre-diameter sphere that has been suspended from the ceiling, and onto which two weeks’ worth of real imagery of the sun, condensed into a 12-minute film, is being projected.

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But this is no normal projection. Somehow, this sun, like the real one, seems to be generating light, as if energy is spilling out from it in every direction.

Combined with the extraordinary clarity of the image being displayed, the effect is utterly fascinating: I step back to the very edge of this incredible room and watch as dozens of people are drawn towards, around, and into the orbit of what is, in the end, just a trick of the light.

A little further back, people sit in silence, whether alone or in groups, soaking in a feeling that they will struggle to describe.

Author and teacher Alom Shaha recently told me that science should be discussed in the same conversation as literature, art and music.

They are all things, he argued, that humans have created to help us make sense of the world and our place in it, helping to address our need for answers that we know will never come.

Science isn’t just about numbers and measurements – it’s also about awe and wonder and inspiration, and for that you need experiences.

It’s not just about thinking, but also feeling, and there’s a lot of feeling going on in this room.

As I turn to leave, I see a perfect example: a group of children have walked underneath the sun, laid down on the floor, and are now gazing up at its turbulent, raging, mesmerising and utterly beautiful surface.

And maybe, deep inside their imaginations, they’re creating sparks that will turn into infernos of their own.