Skillet Which Hovers over a Kitchen Countertop

I have always liked to go outside the box with ideas. Here is one which occurred to me in 1973, and which I designed and built and used then. I would place a normal-looking kitchen Skillet on the kitchen countertop, and put the hamburgers or eggs into it. I had a dial on the front edge of the countertop, and when I would turn it on, the skillet would rise up about half an inch and then just hover there! Guests would watch the food cook and they were always mystified!

I had wired a large coil of wire which I had placed just under the countertop (and made a tiny black dot on the countertop so I knew exactly where to place the skillet!). I used an ALUMINUM SKILLET, straight from the store. I mounted an ELECTRIC RANGE control in the front edge of the counter to adjust the cooking.

I believe I used a standard 500-foot supply of 12-gauge house wiring to make the coil, and I wound it around a stack of steel plates which is called a Transformer Core. This last was not actually necessary, but it made it perform a lot better.

What I had created was a relatively standard transformer, which was a combination of an air-core transformer and an iron-core transformer. The 12-gauge wiring could handle up to 20 amperes of electricity, but I had designed my coil to generally use about 10 amperes at the 120 volts I was using. So I was using around 1200 Watts of electricity, which is comparable to the amount of power used by a rangetop heating element of an electric kitchen range.

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That coil therefore had around 500 turns of wire in it. The aluminum skillet bottom was great at conducting electricity because it was aluminum, and it acted as though it was a ONE TURN coil. The result of this was that I had a transformer that had about a 500 to 1 turn ratio. This resulted in the VOLTAGE in the bottom of the skillet to only be very low, about 1/4 volt, but the CURRENT was enormous, around 5,000 amperes. This still accounted for the same amount of electricity I was using (less than a toaster uses), but the 5,000 ampere current caused the bottom of the skillet to heat up almost instantly!

This explains why it could COOK.

The levitation is more interesting! The electricity going through the coil under the countertop was rotating through the coil in one direction. The induced current in the skillet bottom was rotating in the skillet in the same direction. These two coils of wire each created magnetic fields, which were of the same direction, SO THEY REPELLED EACH OTHER! The one under the countertop was fixed in place, so the only thing that could happen was for the skillet to be repelled upward, which resulted in the skillet hovering above the counter!

Early on, I DID have a complication! Once the skillet rose up to hover, it had a tendency to slide sideways to no longer be above the undercounter coil, and the skillet would stop hovering and stop cooking! I had to add four small additional coils under the counter, which created opposite magnetic fields, so they each repelled the skillet if it tried to slide off in their direction!

The countertop never got hot, although it did get slightly warm from the current flowing in the coil under the counter. I had initially been concerned about the possibility that the hot skillet bottom might cause burn marks in the countertop, but that never happened.

This presentation was first placed on the Internet in April 2012.

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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago