1. Officially named the Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, after the president who signed it into law in 1956, this system spans the entire United States and is made up of highways that travel from north to south (the uneven numbers) and east to west (the even numbers). The system took 35 years to complete and cost hundreds of billions of dollars; in effect, it was the “costliest public works since the construction of the pyramids.” It spans more than 47,000 miles (75,000 kilometers).

In the hit comedy show The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon reprograms a GPS to spit out trivia questions, such as, “Which four state capitals are not served by the Interstate Highway System?” (Actually, there are six: ...

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