The narrator and "Rover" (if that's his name, which it is probably is not, although it is likely a part of the grander uncertainty) argue whether they should conduct Schrödinger's classic thought experiment, supposedly illustrating the absurdity of quantum theory:
If a cat is trapped in a box with (Le Guin uses a random photon release to trigger a silent gun) a radioactive substance that randomly emits radiation which may cause poison (cyanide, I'd heard) to kill a cat. If we don't open the box determining the outcome, then cat is indeterminate both dead and alive, which is absurd--for a cat. This, however, is now seen as the actual way we understand electron behavior.Le Guin offers that the experiment itself is absurd, suggesting we don't know what the actual system is and who/what all is apart of it, and who are the observers impacting the outcome. A good observation about science and how, to a degree, scientists determine some of the outcome they're looking for through their observation. More should be aware of this aspect of science.