I'm a gamer at heart and recently one of the games that I've been enjoying recently has been Marvel: Avengers Alliance over on Facebook. Readers of the blog will know I'm a big comics fan and recently talked about the science in the Avengers film. So when I was playing this Facebook game and Magneto activated his "Graviton Shield" power I immediately thought one thing ...
Magneto is a villain who mostly goes up against the X-Men. That wasn't the confusing part, though, because there are X-Men characters in the game and Magneto has clashed with the Avengers over the years. No, the part that made me go "Huh?" is that Magneto is the "Master of Magnetism" ... So why the heck does he have a Graviton Shield?
Gravitons are hypothetical gauge bosons that mediate the force of gravity. As described in the comics (or in The Physics of Superheroes) Magneto's power is the ability to manipulate magnetic energy. The gauge boson that mediates the electromagnetic force is the photon, so if he wields magnetic powers then it is the photon that he should be able to create a shield of, not the graviton. This means that he can do all sorts of great things when manipulating charged particles like electrons or protons.
But a graviton doesn't have any electrical charge at all. (Or, to be precise, it has an electrical charge of zero.) Not only should he not be generating gravitons, but he shouldn't even be able to affect them!
Of course, I suppose there could be something much deeper going on here. Under string theory, the most fundamental type of object wouldn't be an electron or a graviton, but instead a tiny vibrating string of energy. Is it possible that Magneto has developed the ability to get these strings to vibrate at different frequencies, changing from an electron into a graviton?
This does, however, seem to be a bit outside of Magneto's wheelhouse, more the sort of power that is normally wielded by Molecule Man, who (despite the name) is shown to be able to manipulate matter at its most fundamental levels.
So it looks like this is another case of comic book & video game science abuse. That is, unless any of you loyal readers have a suggestion for how Magneto could manipulate gravitons. Offer your theories in the comment section and let's see if we can reverse-engineer an explanation that makes sense!