Translate Radioisotope Hydrogeochemist – #1000simplewords

There is a new craze sweeping twitter…at least among those that I follow, which is mostly geoscientists. This is of course the #1000simplewords challenge. In essence the challenge is to explain your profession using only the 1000 most common words in the English language. The most complex/specific title that I could come up with for myself was radioisotope hydrogeochemist. What a mouthful of jargon! I have tried to simplify this in the paragraph below. If you would like to try it out for yourself go here. There is a nice little collection of job descriptions being posted at the Highly Allocthonous blog and that is great place to go see the attempts of others.

I have to say that this is not the easiest thing in the world. Words like earth, soil, rock are not allowed. Words that I take for granted when I describe what I do like: contaminant, groundwater, radioactive, analyze, etc. are all not allowed. This made the challenge a lot harder than I expected. It was also a very rewarding experience and got me thinking about what I do in the simplest terms possible, which was pretty eye opening.

 Water is every place and in everything. We need water to live and we use water to drink, make power and grow food. I study the amazing field of what is in our water. I look at where our water comes from, how it moves and if there is anything in our water that should not be there. I pick up water from all over the world and try to find out what is in it. If I find something that should not be in the water I try to explain how it got there and what we can do to clean it. I also use what I have learned to understand how bad things get in our water in the first place and how they move with the water. Knowing this can help us keep our water clean and how to keep bad things from hurting our water. Keeping our water clean is something that we should all care about and I try to talk about this with as many people as I can.

Cheers and let me know what you think of my attempt.


Matt Herod is a Ph.D Candidate in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada. His research focuses on the geochemistry of iodine and the radioactive isotope iodine-129. His work involves characterizing the cycle and sources of 129I in the Canadian Arctic and applying this to long term radioactive waste disposal and the effect of Fukushima fallout. His project includes field work and lab work at the André E. Lalonde 3MV AMS Laboratory. Matt blogs about any topic in geology that interests him, and attempts to make these topics understandable to everyone. Tweets as @GeoHerod.


  1. Nice, but you have it easy, Matt — water is one of the accepted words! Plant isn’t on the list, can you believe it?! :)

    • Oh wow!!! You’re right. I am one of the lucky ones.

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