SimuLab 1: "Walking" Along a Coastline
You need the Coastline program to complete this SimuLab. You can download it to your computer or use it online in a Java applet.
Now we use a computer program to draw the model of a coastline and to measure the dimension of that model using the "ruler method'' (see Figure ).
2. Click on the Step-by-step button, so that you can watch the construction of the coastline.
3. Click on the Draw button once. What rule do you think the computer uses to start the coastline?
4. Click on the Draw button a second time. What does the computer do?
5. Go on clicking the Draw button (you can do this up to 10 times).
6. Make additional coastlines by selecting New under the File menu. You can speed up the drawing by clicking on the Automatic button.
7. Make several different coastlines. Each time change the Roughness setting by clicking on the control boxes containing the symbols << , < , > , or >> . Does every roughness setting give you a realistic coastline?
8. Find a roughness setting that gives you a coastline about as jagged as the actual coastline you measured before (even though the overall shape may not be the same). Give this coastline a name using the Save as command in the File menu.
9. Now measure the dimension of your constructed coastline. Go to the Measure menu. There are two options, one using a ruler (calipers) and one using the grid. Choose Using Ruler, set the ruler length with the size bar to a rather large value, then select Manual Measure from the panel at the right side of the screen.
10. One end of the ruler is anchored at one end of the coastline and the other end points toward the cursor. Move the cursor to set the free end of the ruler at a point on the coastline and click the mouse to anchor it, which creates a new ruler.
11. Repeat the process until you have stepped along the whole coastline. When you reach the bottom, press the Done button. If you make a mistake, press the Cancel button to start over.
12. Change the ruler length, and this time click on the Auto Measure button. Then the computer will do the "stepping'' for you.
13. Repeat the process with several different ruler lengths. Each result is automatically entered into the data table.
14. Now let the computer analyze the data. Press the Done Measuring button. Explore for yourself the Table and Graph commands under the Data menu. This shows the data you have collected and different ways to graph it, similar to what you did by hand in previous activities.
15. The kind of graph we drew in HandsOn 1 to measure dimension is called a log-log graph. (See Unit on page for an explanation of the log-log graph.) Under Graph Type choose y vs. x (log-log scale). The size L of the ruler is plotted along the horizontal axis, and the number N of ruler lengths to follow the coastline along the vertical axis. Click on the Curve Fit button to draw the best-fit straight line through the points. The slope is the dimension of the coastline, which appears as the exponent in an equation next to the graph. Write down the value of this dimension; you will need it later. Does this dimension have a value approximately equal to the dimension of the map coastline you measured in HandsOn 1?
16. Give this coastline a name you can remember using the Save as command in the File menu.