According to classical concepts in Physics, Gravitational Fields can bend space, while Magnetic Fields are orthogonal to them, and as long as that model does not break, no intensity of Magnetic Field, will do what a Gravitation Field does.
But there are many ways in which the classical theories of Physics have been replaced by more-controversial ones, based on Quantum Mechanics.
One subject which Quantum-Mechanics describes, is that of Virtual Particles. And this is my best stab at explaining ‘how they work':
The ‘normal state’ of matter, is to have positive energy, which is really just a confusing way to say that matter has positive mass, since mass and energy are equivalent, and since photons, that are generally perceived as only consisting of energy, can collide with nuclei, and cause matter-antimatter particle-pairs to be created, the combined mass of which must not exceed the energy of the incident gamma-ray photon.
This concept of matter possibly having positive energy can be misread, because the particle in question could be an electron, the electrical charge of which is defined as negative. This negative electrical charge does not prevent the electron from being positive matter, in the sense that its electrical properties are orthogonal to its mass, as a property.
But there was a famous Physicist named Dirac, who discovered quite by accident, that in correspondence with the positive-energy / mass -state of a particle, a negative-energy state is also ‘possible’, because that negative state by itself does not lead to contradictions.
The ‘inverse electron’ is positively charged, and opposite the regular electron in every way, including that the inverse one has positive charge, (and negative mass and energy). If the electron was left-handed, the positron will be right-handed.
Quite by accident, Dirac had discovered antimatter.
(Edit 05/25/2017 : It should be pointed out that this initial theory of Antimatter stands in contradiction with the modern, observed fact, that antimatter has positive mass, even though in some ways, it’s supposed to exist in opposition to ‘regular matter’. Hence, the paradox has already been commented on in depth, that while in the laboratory, Scientists are only able to convert energy into matter and antimatter simultaneously, the observed Universe consists almost entirely of matter.
Scientists cannot explain why this inconsistency takes place; they can only measure that it does.
It’s assumed that the reader is already familiar with this, and this posting is designed to have a liberal look at the subject, which could open up ways to rethink it. Trying to rethink a subject, while clinging to every assumption we may make about it, will usually not lead to any new insights. )
But under normal circumstances, the properties of empty space are defined such, that the energy-state of the electrons equals zero, which simply means that they do not exist. Yet, there is some small probability, that both a negative a positive-energy electron exist simultaneously, yet temporarily. Over slightly longer distances, relative to their distances of uncertainty, their properties cancel out. “Virtual Particle Phenomena” arise, when these particle-properties fail to cancel out completely. This usually requires some catalyst to happen, that catalyst having to consist of positive energy.
An extremely strong magnetic field – which would have to be stronger, even, than the magnetic field of a regular neutron star – is capable of evoking an asymmetry, in the paired, virtual particles of empty space. And then, if the magnetic field becomes as strong as that observed belonging to a type of start called a ‘magnetar’, a gamma-ray photon that crosses it, can cause a particle-antiparticle pair to be formed, which consume the photon, and which promptly annihilate, thus leaving behind two or more photons, that are less-energetic than the original photon was.
And so by distorting the relationship between a particle and its inverse, as belonging to a virtual-particle pair, a magnetic field can in fact have an effect on empty space. I do not know whether this meets the criteria of distorting space adequately.
I have a piece of personal speculation to add. It might be that Dirac had an incorrect way of working with this subject.
(Edit 10/15/2016 : Personally, I have a handicap in trying to understand this subject. According to the classical concepts which I read in my youth, antimatter had positive mass, exactly as regular matter does. When a positron and electron annihilated, the amount of energy emitted was the equivalent of twice the mass of either.
But according to Virtual Particles, a negative-energy state is possible, that should also give negative mass, so that free space occupied by both states, has completely neutral properties, including to generate no gravity.
If the concept of negative mass is taken from Virtual Particles, and applied to try understanding antimatter, an initial paradox which arises, is that considerable energy needs to be input, to obtain a particle – anti-particle pair, the energies of which add up to zero – which would defy conservation of energy.
But being able to overcome this obstacle, would have as advantage, a new ability to define antimatter, not in the form of a separate particle-type, but just as a separate state, of the same particle-type. )
(Edit 05/25/2017 : I should also add a note, on matter-antimatter annihilations. They must observe both conservation of energy and conservation of momentum. This is easiest to visualize in the particle-pair resulting in two photons, the combined energy and momentum-vector of which equal those of the initial particle.
I.e., if the particle and its antiparticle were to start out moving diametrically towards each other, the initial momentum-vector would be a zero-vector, while the combined energy would be decidedly non-zero. So, two photons could result, with opposite direction vectors again. Next, it would be easiest to visualize that these two photons have paths somewhere at right-angles to the paths of the initial particles. And, if the two particles were moving with a combined momentum, in one plane, then two photons could be emitted, which would be coplanar at right angles to the plane of the particles, so that again their combined momentum would equal that of the initial particle-pair. And then this visualization would follow progressively from the previous one, starting with paths that are nearly-opposite, both going in and coming out.
The problem with this assumption, is that it’s just that, an assumption, and a very deterministic one at that. Instead, three photons might also emerge, as long as both energy and momentum are conserved. The only result which would not work, is if a single photon emerged, because then, its energy would follow directly from its momentum-vector, whereas these two variables started out as independent.
Worse yet, because spin – angular momentum – is a kind of momentum, it too must be conserved. I.e., the particles’ initial velocities might have been opposite, but their projected paths might not have passed through the same point in space. In that case, between these two particles, there existed non-zero spin. Granted, attraction will have pulled them closer together until they annihilated – but their spin needs to be dissipated in the long run.
If we say, two photons exit along the axis of mutual spin, then indeed, the wavelength of one could be shorter than that of the other, just so that the angular momentum of one is also the greater. But as soon as that has happened, the linear momentum of the photons is also said to be different… )
I must admit, that I have considered several versions of how, exactly, antimatter is supposed to work.
Purely according to Dirac, electrons must start to fill their lowest-energy states first, before they can fill the higher-energy states. But according to Dirac, each electron could have a potentially endless series of energy-states. This would give ‘free space’ a table of electron-density. I think that an aspect of this theory which I need to modify, is that the negative energy-states do not need to be filled, before the positive are. By default, the energies are zero, or +1 coincidentally with -1.
The question of whether such an electron hole has positive or negative inertia, does not become actual, because an electron hole was always fully capable of exhibiting positive inertia. If a hole in a semiconductive crystal is moving ‘away from’ a positive electrode, electrons are moving ‘towards the same electrode, in the opposite direction from the hole’. The electrons which fill the hole in this opposite direction can exhibit chaining phenomena, such that it is they which exhibit inertia, causing the hole to appear to have positive inertia as well.
My main reason for not adopting this theory in its pure form, is its failure to explain, why Scientists have been equally able to create anti-protons. Scientists have even completed an experiment successfully, in which they created positrons, contained in one accelerator ring, and created anti-protons, contained in another accelerator ring, and combined the two beams, to create slightly-overheated anti-hydrogen-atoms, with the positrons attached to the anti-protons, the same way electrons are normally attached to the nuclei of regular matter.
But to the best of my understanding, incident energy ‘pulls’ an electron in a positive energy-state from free space, and leaves behind an electron in a negative-energy state – a positron. And the startling conclusion that this leads me to, is that antimatter might actually have negative gravity, since the electron-positron virtual-particle fluid of free space has zero gravity.
Only, antimatter may be what results, if the separation between pairs is made to become lasting, and if the inverse particle is observed separately.
Alternatively one could conjecture, that antimatter has positive gravitation, just as we have always believed, in which case the existence of Virtual particle-pairs might be a potential explanation for the ‘Dark Matter’ in the Universe.
I suspect that the main way in which protons differ from electrons, is that their mass is much greater, so that their distance of uncertainty is much shorter, thus reducing any virtual pairings. OTOH, there are circumstances under which a photon can evoke an electron-positron pair from free space, in the presence of an extremely powerful electrostatic field, such as the field produced by a nucleus.
On that subject: I think that most commonly, the virtual particles which are thought to contribute to observable phenomena are “bosons with no rest-mass” – i.e. photons. For that reason, the subject of whether their negative-energy counterparts have positive or negative gravitation, may not be so significant.
But there also exist “bosons that possess rest-mass” – which are usually the gluons, which hold together the quarks, that make up protons and neutrons. And more importantly, lest we forget, fermions also exist.
So there would need to be a region in space where ‘hard gamma rays’ are being emitted, before any of this is of consequence – and yet, such regions do exist, where a neutron star is radiating gamma-rays…
Also, if this question was relevant, it would contravene the common notion, that virtual particles are not supposed to be stated overall, as having a specific collective quantity. They are usually said only to exist, as far as they are contributing to an observed phenomenon. If they were also contributing to Dark Matter in the Universe, they would need to have some definite quantity.
(Edit 05/25/2017 : To my understanding, Scientists are embarking on a massive computing project, to create a gravity-map of the known Universe, and one of their goals is actually to find out, where the Dark Matter seems to be concentrated.
From what I heard, according to some preliminary findings, very little or no Dark Matter was found to exist close to the Earth.
Well, no Neutron Stars or Black Holes with accretion disks are thought to exist very close to the Earth either… )
(Edit 10/19/2016 : ) In practice, one way in which Scientists have been able to obtain positron-electron pairs from energy, has been by bombarding copper nuclei with gamma-ray photons, the energy of which was high enough to do so. And reasonably, one might ask, what it is that the copper nucleus contributes, to cause this to happen.
Somebody might guess, that the existence of quarks in the nucleus helps this happen. But in reality, quarks are an expression of the strong nuclear force, not the EM.
And so a more likely answer, is that the electrostatic field of the copper nucleus is strong enough, to allow this to happen.
When Scientists generate anti-protons, they no longer use the equivalent gamma-ray photons. I think that this is for the practical reason, that gamma-rays so energetic, would simply pass through the target, and fail to get absorbed. And so to produce anti-protons, Scientists use alpha particles, as the source of energy.
Of course doing so, will also cause the target nucleus to fission.