Overview of the Giant Drill

It's no coincidence that "drill" is both a noun and a verb. It has penetrated multiple parts of speech in the English language. Indeed, penetration is the essence of the drill, perhaps the very reason that drills are seen as a stereotypically male posession. Drills are simple devices, however, not altogether interesting in and of themselves. The giant drill is more worthy of a critical eye, and you might find that once you allow mankind's most powerful spiral to bore its way into your heart, you start to see its wonder all around you.

Giant Drills in Pop Culture

Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
Episode #9, "MC Pee Pants", is the story of Meatwad's growing fixation on rap idol MC Pee Pants. Neither Meatwad nor Carl can get the lyrics to his single, "I Want Candy," out of their heads, and when they recognize one line of the song as a nearby address, they go to 612 Wharf Avenue only to discover that Mc Pee Pants is using a giant drill to dig a tunnel into Hell. Unfortunately, it's a common misconception that one of the most popular uses for giant drills is boring entry paths into Hell. (Thus far, no conclusive evidence has been produced to suggest that Hell lies in the center of the Earth.)

When the world couldn't come up with a reasonable method to delay its impending annhilation, it resorted to an absurd one: land an oil drilling crew on a comet, drill to its center, and imbed a nuclear weapon in its depths. Harry Stamper (played by Bruce Willis) led the rag-tag crew that performed the feat. Drill-lovers know: before hitting the button that destroyed both the comet and himself, Stamper's last words of "we win, Gracie" were subtly deceptive. The "we" there referred to Harry and the drill, not Harry and Gracie. (Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen Armageddon, don't read the preceeding paragraph!)

Bioshock is a first person shooter developed by Irrational Studios and published by 2k Games in August 2007. It depicts a subaquatic cultural utopia in its death throes in a steampunk environment, featuring a group of potential enemies (or allies?) called "Big Brothers." There are multiple incarnations of the Big Brothers, and one of these massive robotic creations features a giant drill-arm as a weapon. One popular trailer features the point-of-view character being speared through the chest with one of these drills, a testament both to the startling power of the mechanical spiral and to the importance of recognizing that it can be used for both good and evil.

The Incredibles:
The Incredibles introduces a villain known as "The Underminer," who commands a force of robots capable of drilling into the Earth like moles. He is also featured in The Incredibles: Rise of the Underminer, a video game taking place after the events of the movie.

Megalon is a kaiju featured in the 1973 film "Godzilla vs. Megalon" and several Godzilla-related computer games. A giant insect god of sorts, Megalon's arms are, essentially, drills. In battle they are never seen as spinning, but he does activate them to dig through the Earth, most notably when he retreats back to his underwater realm of Seatopia after being handily defeated by Godzilla.

South Park:
South Park's episode 902, entitled "Die Hippie, Die," features a vehicle-type giant drill dubbed "The Hippie Digger." Hippies have overrun South Park and, as they are wont to do, are holding a music festival. Cartman is called upon to save the town, and his ingenius plan is to use The Hippie Digger to mow through the legions of flower children in an effort to reach the stage, at which point he can play Slayer's "Raining Blood" over the festival sound system to drive away the multitudes.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
The Foot Clan used drill-type transport modules in Seasons 3 and 5. The models used in Season 5 were used to tunnel from the North Pole towards New York City, and as such featured minor design modifications to more efficiently drill through ice.

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is a Japanese anime and manga series in which humans have been forced underground and live in scattered subterranean villages. Earthquakes are frequent and cause regular damage to homes, so "diggers" are appointed the task of expanding tunnels deeper into the Earth. Simon, the main protagonist, is one such laborer, and he discovers a mecha that transforms into a drill bit. The series is heavy on spiral motifs and inspiring speeches about drilling through adversity to "shatter the heavens," which is vaguely uplifting despite being completely confusing.

Thunderbirds is known for its wide array of vehicles, and among them is The Mole. The Mole, like many other vehicles of its kind, is simply a transport vehicle with a drill bit. However, it is distinct in one way: the drill is made of adamantium, the strongest substance on Earth. (Usually, depending on which fictional universe your story takes place in.)

The Transformers franchise of television shows, toys, games, and comics features a veritable smorgasborg of transforming drill machines. Among them:

  • Drillhorn - Drillhorn is a member of an elite Decepticon team called "Breast Force" in the Japanese-only series Transformers: Victory. His vehicle form is a drill tank.
  • Drill Bit (Mini-Con) - A Mini-Con from Transformers: Armada, this incarnation of Drill Bit features a drill-arm. Despite the fact that Min-Cons are by nature very small, e2Drills has opted to include this one in the list as the ratio of body mass to drill size is equal to that of many conventional giant drills.
  • Drill Bit (Cybertron) - Drill Bit returns in the Cybertron cartoon series that takes place after Armada, but he is in fact a different machine with a different personality. Better yet, he comes equipped with two drills instead of one.
  • Drill Bit (Beast Wars) - Drill Bit is also the name of a Decepticon in Beast Wars. Though more organic in nature, he features an essential design similar to the Mini-Con with whom he shares a name: bi-pedal, with a spinning drill bit for a right arm.
  • Drill Nuts (Beast Wars) - Drill Nuts is an Insectron Maximal (good guy) in the Beast Wars series. He seems more at home underground than above, and frequently spends prolonged periods of time beneath the surface of the Earth, laying traps for his drill-impaired foes.
  • Nosecone - In the animated series, Nosecone was the first technobot created by Grimlock while he was temporarily endowed with extreme intelligence. He transforms into a drill tank designed to penetrate fortress walls. In the Marvel comics continuity, he was destroyed by Starscream.
Episode #212 - "The Core" - Megatron constructs a giant drill to tap energy from the center of the Earth. Starscream warns him that doing so will destroy the planet, but Megatron is not dissuaded. Devastator goes berserk during the ensuing battle and destroys the drill, thus saving the world. (Thanks go to rootbeer277.)

Wurm: Journey To The Center of The Earth:
Wurm is a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1991 by Asmik. Earthquakes are rocking civilization, and the government sends a crew to investigate the cause. The intrepid travelers employ the use of vehicles called "VZRs" to dig towards the center of the planet. Occasionally, the drill bit is damaged and Moby, the leader of the crew, must investigate. These side-scrolling levels typically involve Moby killing dozens of ape-like subterranean creatures and are noticeably lacking in drill content.

Giant Drills in Reality

Kola Superdeep Borehole:
In 1970's and 80's the Soviets tried drilling through the Earth's crust to the Mohorovicic Discontinuity, but things didn't work out. The rock was too viscuous at that depth and far too hot for the drill bits; after a few attempts at getting around the problems the project was terminated. It did, however, serve as the inspiration for other attempts.

Project Mohole:
Project Mohole was initiated in 1961 by the American Miscellaneous Society and employed the use of a drillship named CUSS I to drill into the Mohorovicic Discontinuity. Phase 1 was noteable for drilling from an untethered ship at a depth previously untapped through the ocean floor, but Phase 2 was scrapped early as a result of budget and management problems.

Chikyu Hakken:
Chikyu Hakken is a Japanese project initiated in 2007 that aims to pick up where Project Mohole left off. The depth of the planned hole is less than that of the Kola Superdeep Borehole, but the Chikyu is a drillship and thus will drill through the seabed, where the crust is thinner.

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