“It seems as if a semi-transparent, rectangular membrane were separating you from a white space of indeterminable extent beyond. You might reach out, gingerly, to be assured that there is nothing to bump into.
Here there is, it seems, nothing but whiteness as far as the eye can see. How far is that? You cannot tell just by looking, but as you walk toward the far wall, you find that the floor curves up and merges seamlessly into the perpendicular wall, and the material facts start to fall into place. Looking back, you discover an impressive battery of high-tech lighting previously hidden behind the framing proscenium.
The world is full of objects and textured surfaces; these are what our eyes are designed to see. That form of perception helps orient us in space. But, as Immanuel Kant observed long ago, it is not certain that space and time exist independently of human consciousness.
Mr. Wheeler’s white room may be a preview of the universal divine light into which each of us will merge, according to some mystics, when we die.”