Will legal sports gambling warp America? The elites may hope so By Chris Reed, San Diego Union-Tribune May 17, 2018 at 6:16 pm In the early 1940s, two trailblazing discoveries were made in Chicago that continue to shape the modern world. On Dec. 2, 1942, scientists at the University of Chicago working on the U.S. government’s Manhattan Project created the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. This led directly to the development of atomic bombs, which brought World War II to a close after the Pentagon used two to horrific effect in 1945 against Japan. The unprecedentedly destructive weapons firmly established the United States as a superpower with unrivaled ability to influence events around the world. The second discovery — for which no exact date is available — has never received remotely as much attention. University of Chicago graduate Charles K. McNeil, once a bank securities analyst and a prep-school math teacher of John F. Kennedy, changed the way people gamble on sports first in Chicago and then across the world by introducing the point spread.