Can gravity be simulated using electromagnetic forces?

Not completely.

First of all, gravity is what is called a tensor force while electromagnetism is a vector force. That difference means that it is impossible to reproduce all of the properties in gravity using a simpler force field. Moreover, gravity is not at all a force in the usual sense. It is a purely geometric effect in spacetime.

Gravity provides ONLY a force of attraction between all forms of matter and energy. Electromagnetism provided ONLY attractive or repulsive forces between matter which carries electric charge. It is possible to get the acceleration of gravity and the force of gravity by using two charged particles of opposite charge, but numerically all you would have is a force field that mimics one feature of gravity. Take away the charges and the similarity immediately vanishes. Here is an example of magnetic levatation.

Contrary to what some science fiction stories might imply, we know of no electromagnetic analog of gravity. We can however create electromagnetic force fields with charged matter that can alter the total forces they feel due to gravity. We can levitate charged particles in magnetic fields and so on.

Return to Dr. Odenwald's Gravity page at the Astronomy Cafe Blog.