This summer, Marketplace Tech is exploring tech in movies. Today, we’re looking at the Bruce Willis classic “Armageddon,” which was the highest-grossing film of 1998. That was 20 years ago, and fans still love the movie today. Willis’ character, Harry Stamper, is a "deep core" oil driller sent into space to drill a hole and drop a bomb in an asteroid that is hurtling toward Earth. We meet Harry on an offshore oil rig, managing a surly crew, with oil flying everywhere. It's a depiction of oil-drilling life that has stuck with the public, but has very little to do with reality, says Eric van Oort. He's a professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Texas. Amy Choi talked to van Oort about the space drilling technology in “Armageddon." The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.
Eric van Oort: When I meet new people and tell them I’m a drilling engineer, nine times out of 10, people bring up "Armageddon." And then I have to tell them it’s not at all like Harry Stamper’s rig — a complete mess, and there are safety violations all over.