Stare long enough at a disparate set of data points and clusters emerge. If you’re an Ancient Mesopotamian, millions of scattered points of light in the sky become constellations. If you’re a bored, doodling mathematician named Stanislaw Ulam, cardinal numbers arrayed in a spiral reveal grouped patterns in the seemingly random occurrence of primes. Even if you’re a koala—hamstrung by a too-small brain, because you can’t muster the energy to sustain a larger one, because the only thing your body can digest for energy is literally toxic and will kill you if eat too much of it—pattern recognition helps you find your next meal.

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