The Littlest Bruin
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the classroom, Catherine's attention is focused.
ability to discern intrinsic patterns is demonstrated while showing
off a print that hangs in her bedroom of Giotto's Lamentation
Over Jesus. "I like this picture because it's actually
geometrical," she says. "Let's see, why is it geometrical?
If you look at the center, it's this guy's head, which is obviously
not the main point of the picture. So you follow this line, and
because the guy is pointing at the line, you go up here and go to
the tree," she says, tracing the path. "And then it goes
to the angels, and the angels are pointing downward … and
if you try to look anywhere else these few more men block it. So
you have to look here, and that is where the focus of the painting
moment puts one in mind of the scene in A Beautiful Mind
in which mathematician John Nash, played by Russell Crowe, stands
under an intensely star-filled sky with his future wife, played
by Jennifer Connelly, and asks her to select any shape she can imagine
— she picks an umbrella. Taking her hand, he guides it among
the infinite glimmers of the canopy and, to her amazement, tags
the exact points of light that describe the pattern she's chosen.
of Catherine's parents have characterized their daughter's
attendance at UCLA as an adventure and an experiment. They are not
pushing her to stay if she feels it is too tough. She can always
withdraw, they say, and come back in a few years when she is more
given her the option to leave many times," Hackwood says. "She
doesn't have to do this."
after six weeks, Catherine is doing well. She made good grades on
her midterms and isn't finding her classes — even the very
tough upper-division math analysis course — too daunting.
Nor is she deterred by the kinds of technical catastrophes that
can ruin the day, week or even quarter of any student. When her
computer crashed and devoured four days' worth of work on a program
for her C++ class, she sat down and redid everything from memory
in under an hour.