Tag: state (page 23 of 75)

Fresh fossil studies push the dawn of man back to 2.8 million years

(Reuters) - A 2.8-million-year-old jawbone fossil with five intact teeth unearthed in an Ethiopian desert is pushing back the dawn of humankind by about half a million years.Scientists said on Wednesday the fossil represents the oldest known repres...

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What happens to your body when you give up sugar?





Excerpt from independent.co.uk
By Jordan Gaines Lewis


In neuroscience, food is something we call a “natural reward.” In order for us to survive as a species, things like eating, having sex and nurturing others must be pleasurable to the brain so that these behaviours are reinforced and repeated.
Evolution has resulted in the mesolimbic pathway, a brain system that deciphers these natural rewards for us. When we do something pleasurable, a bundle of neurons called the ventral tegmental area uses the neurotransmitter dopamine to signal to a part of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. The connection between the nucleus accumbens and our prefrontal cortex dictates our motor movement, such as deciding whether or not to taking another bite of that delicious chocolate cake. The prefrontal cortex also activates hormones that tell our body: “Hey, this cake is really good. And I’m going to remember that for the future.”
Not all foods are equally rewarding, of course. Most of us prefer sweets over sour and bitter foods because, evolutionarily, our mesolimbic pathway reinforces that sweet things provide a healthy source of carbohydrates for our bodies. When our ancestors went scavenging for berries, for example, sour meant “not yet ripe,” while bitter meant “alert – poison!”
Fruit is one thing, but modern diets have taken on a life of their own. A decade ago, it was estimated that the average American consumed 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, amounting to an extra 350 calories; it may well have risen since then. A few months ago, one expert suggested that the average Briton consumes 238 teaspoons of sugar each week.
Today, with convenience more important than ever in our food selections, it’s almost impossible to come across processed and prepared foods that don’t have added sugars for flavour, preservation, or both.
These added sugars are sneaky – and unbeknown to many of us, we’ve become hooked. In ways that drugs of abuse – such as nicotine, cocaine and heroin – hijack the brain’s reward pathway and make users dependent, increasing neuro-chemical and behavioural evidence suggests that sugar is addictive in the same way, too.

Sugar addiction is real

Anyone who knows me also knows that I have a huge sweet tooth. I always have. My friend and fellow graduate student Andrew is equally afflicted, and living in Hershey, Pennsylvania – the “Chocolate Capital of the World” – doesn’t help either of us. But Andrew is braver than I am. Last year, he gave up sweets for Lent. “The first few days are a little rough,” Andrew told me. “It almost feels like you’re detoxing from drugs. I found myself eating a lot of carbs to compensate for the lack of sugar.”
There are four major components of addiction: bingeing, withdrawal, craving, and cross-sensitisation (the notion that one addictive substance predisposes someone to becoming addicted to another). All of these components have been observed in animal models of addiction – for sugar, as well as drugs of abuse.
A typical experiment goes like this: rats are deprived of food for 12 hours each day, then given 12 hours of access to a sugary solution and regular chow. After a month of following this daily pattern, rats display behaviours similar to those on drugs of abuse. They’ll binge on the sugar solution in a short period of time, much more than their regular food. They also show signs of anxiety and depression during the food deprivation period. Many sugar-treated rats who are later exposed to drugs, such as cocaine and opiates, demonstrate dependent behaviours towards the drugs compared to rats who did not consume sugar beforehand.
Like drugs, sugar spikes dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens. Over the long term, regular sugar consumption actually changes the gene expression and availability of dopamine receptors in both the midbrain and frontal cortex. Specifically, sugar increases the concentration of a type of excitatory receptor called D1, but decreases another receptor type called D2, which is inhibitory. Regular sugar consumption also inhibits the action of the dopamine transporter, a protein which pumps dopamine out of the synapse and back into the neuron after firing.
In short, this means that repeated access to sugar over time leads to prolonged dopamine signalling, greater excitation of the brain’s reward pathways and a need for even more sugar to activate all of the midbrain dopamine receptors like before. The brain becomes tolerant to sugar – and more is needed to attain the same “sugar high.”

Sugar withdrawal is also real

Although these studies were conducted in rodents, it’s not far-fetched to say that the same primitive processes are occurring in the human brain, too. “The cravings never stopped, [but that was] probably psychological,” Andrew told me. “But it got easier after the first week or so.”
In a 2002 study by Carlo Colantuoni and colleagues of Princeton University, rats who had undergone a typical sugar dependence protocol then underwent “sugar withdrawal.” This was facilitated by either food deprivation or treatment with naloxone, a drug used for treating opiate addiction which binds to receptors in the brain’s reward system. Both withdrawal methods led to physical problems, including teeth chattering, paw tremors, and head shaking. Naloxone treatment also appeared to make the rats more anxious, as they spent less time on an elevated apparatus that lacked walls on either side.
Similar withdrawal experiments by others also report behaviour similar to depression in tasks such as the forced swim test. Rats in sugar withdrawal are more likely to show passive behaviours (like floating) than active behaviours (like trying to escape) when placed in water, suggesting feelings of helplessness.
A new study published by Victor Mangabeira and colleagues in this month’s Physiology & Behavior reports that sugar withdrawal is also linked to impulsive behaviour. Initially, rats were trained to receive water by pushing a lever. After training, the animals returned to their home cages and had access to a sugar solution and water, or just water alone. After 30 days, when rats were again given the opportunity to press a lever for water, those who had become dependent on sugar pressed the lever significantly more times than control animals, suggesting impulsive behaviour.
These are extreme experiments, of course. We humans aren’t depriving ourselves of food for 12 hours and then allowing ourselves to binge on soda and doughnuts at the end of the day. But these rodent studies certainly give us insight into the neuro-chemical underpinnings of sugar dependence, withdrawal, and behaviour.
Through decades of diet programmes and best-selling books, we’ve toyed with the notion of “sugar addiction” for a long time. There are accounts of those in “sugar withdrawal” describing food cravings, which can trigger relapse and impulsive eating. There are also countless articles and books about the boundless energy and new-found happiness in those who have sworn off sugar for good. But despite the ubiquity of sugar in our diets, the notion of sugar addiction is still a rather taboo topic.
Are you still motivated to give up sugar? You might wonder how long it will take until you’re free of cravings and side-effects, but there’s no answer – everyone is different and no human studies have been done on this. But after 40 days, it’s clear that Andrew had overcome the worst, likely even reversing some of his altered dopamine signalling. “I remember eating my first sweet and thinking it was too sweet,” he said. “I had to rebuild my tolerance.”
And as regulars of a local bakery in Hershey – I can assure you, readers, that he has done just that.
Jordan Gaines Lewis is a Neuroscience Doctoral Candidate at Penn State College of Medicine

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Let There Be Light! Photo Shows Light As Wave And Particle For First Time


Light as a particle and a wave


Excerpt from escapistmagazine.com

According to quantum mechanics light acts as both a particle and a wave, but now we can finally see what that looks like.

Quantum mechanics is an incredibly complex field for a simple reason: So much of what it studies can be two different things at the exact same time. Light is a great example since it behaves like both a particle and a wave, but only appears in one state during experiments. Mathematically speaking, we have to treat light as both ways for the universe to make sense but actually confirming it visually has been impossible. Or at least that was the case until scientists from Switzerland's École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne developed their own unique photography method.
The image was created by shooting a pulse of laser light at a metallic nanowire to make its charged particles vibrate. Next the scientists fired a stream of electrons past the wire holding the trapped light. When the two collided, it created an energy exchange that could be photographed from the electron microscope.

So what does this mean when looking at the photograph? When the photons and electrons collide, they either slow down or speed up, which creates a visualization of a light wave. At the same time the speed change appears as a quanta - packets of energy - transferred between the electrons and photons as particles. In other words, it's the first case of observing light particles and waves simultaneously.

"This experiment demonstrates that, for the first time ever, we can film quantum mechanics - and its paradoxical nature - directly," research leader Fabrizio Carbone explained. This has enormous implications not only for quantum research, but also quantum-based technologies still in development. "Being able to image and control quantum phenomena at the nanometer scale like this opens up a new route towards quantum computing," he continued.

The experiment results were posted in today's Nature Communications, which will help other scientists build on this research with further studies. After all, it's not like we've unlocked all of light's secrets yet - we can barely even tell what color a dress is sometimes.

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STATE OF MISSION REPORT FEBRUARY 2015

Pandora in progres, MOSS in progress, TUNNELS in final completion. PB breach continuation, drastic systems/PPN/Isidic security breach, deflected. HVBN substable to stable. M=10.

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Windwheel concept combines tourist attraction with "silent turbine"


 The Dutch Windwheel concept is designed to be part energy icon, part tourist attraction an...


Excerpt from gizmag.com
By Stu Robarts


The Dutch have long used windmills to harness wind energy. A new concept proposed for city of Rotterdam, however, is surely one of the most elaborate windmills ever conceived. The Dutch Windwheel is a huge circular wind energy converter that houses apartments, a hotel and a giant coaster ride.

The concept is designed to be part energy icon, part tourist attraction and part residential building. It is a 174-m (571-ft) structure comprising two huge rings that appear to lean against each other. "We wanted to combine a big attraction for Rotterdam with a state-of-the-art sustainable concept," explains Lennart Graaff of the Dutch Windwheel Corporation, to Gizmag.

The larger outer ring houses 40 pods on rails that move around the ring and provide those who visit with views of Rotterdam and its port. The smaller inner ring, meanwhile, houses 72 apartments, a 160-room hotel across seven floors and a panoramic restaurant and viewing gallery. Perhaps most remarkable feature of of all, however, is a huge "bladeless turbine" that spans the center smaller ring.

Although this may look and sound like some of the more out-there architectural concepts that Gizmag has featured, it is actually based on existing (albeit prototypical) technology. The electrostatic wind energy convertor (EWICON) was developed at Delft Technical University and generates electricity by harnessing the movement of charged water droplets in the wind. Its lack of moving parts makes it noiseless and easier to maintain than traditional turbines.

Dhiradj Djairam, of the TU Delft team that developed the EWICON, tells Gizmag that the Dutch Windwheel Corporation has expressed "a serious interest" in the technology. Djairam says he has provided an explanation of the technology to the organization and provided a rough outline for a realistic research and development program. To date, only small-scale research projects have been carried out, with additional funding opportunities being explored.

The Dutch Windwheel concept is 174 m (571 ft) tall and has underwater foundations

The Dutch Windwheel concept has other sustainable aspects, too. Photovoltaic thermal hybrid panels would be used to contribute to the generation of electricity, and rainwater would be collected for use in the building. The Dutch Windwheel Corporation says the building itself is designed to be built with locally-sourced materials, and in such a way as it could ultimately be disassembled and re-used elsewhere.

Among the other features of the design are space for commercial functions in the structure's plinth, and foundations that are underwater, making it it look as though the structure is floating. 

We're told that the amount of power the Dutch Windwheel will require to run – and be able to generate – is not yet clear. Likewise, the final technologies and additional sustainability features that would be present in the building have yet to be finalized...

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‘God Particle’ analogue spotted outside a supercollider: Scientists find Higgs mode in a superconductor


The God Particle, which is believed to be responsible for all the mass in the universe, was discovered in 2012 using a Cern's supercollider. In this image two high-energy photons collide. The yellow lines are the measured tracks of other particles produced in the collision, which helped lead to the discovery of the God particle
The God Particle, which is believed to be responsible for all the mass in the universe, was discovered in 2012 using a Cern's supercollider. In this image two high-energy photons collide. The yellow lines are the measured tracks of other particles produced in the collision, which helped lead to the discovery of the God particle.


Excerpt from dailymail.co.uk
  • God Particle is believed to be responsible for all the mass in the universe
  • Particle was discovered in 2012 using a Cern's supercollider in Geneva
  • uperconductor experiment suggests the particle could be detected without the huge amounts of energy used at by the Large Hadron Collider
  • LHC is due to come back online next month after an upgrade that has given it a big boost in energy

Scientists have discovered a simulated version of the elusive 'God particle' using superconductors.

The God Particle, which is believed to be responsible for all the mass in the universe, was discovered in 2012 using a Cern's supercollider.

The superconductor experiment suggests that the Higgs particle could be detected without the huge amounts of energy used at by the Large Hadron Collider. 
The results could help scientists better understand how this mysterious particle – also known as the Higgs boson – behaves in different conditions.

'Just as the Cern experiments revealed the existence of the Higgs boson in a high-energy accelerator environment, we have now revealed a Higgs boson analogue in superconductors,' said researcher Aviad Frydman from Bar-Ilan University.

Superconductors are a type of metal that, when cooled to low temperatures, allow electrons to pass through freely.

'The Higgs mode was never actually observed in superconductors because of technical difficulties - difficulties that we've managed to overcome,' Professor Frydman said.

The superconductor experiment suggests that the Higgs particle could be detected without the huge amounts of energy used at by the Large Hadron Collider (pictured)
The superconductor experiment suggests that the Higgs particle could be detected without the huge amounts of energy used at by the Large Hadron Collider (pictured)

WHAT IS THE GOD PARTICLE? 

The 'God Particle', also known as the Higgs boson, was a missing piece in the jigsaw for physicists in trying to understand how the universe works.

Scientists believe that a fraction of a second after the Big Bang that gave birth to the universe, an invisible energy field, called the Higgs field, formed.

This has been described as a kind of 'cosmic treacle' across the universe. 

As particles passed through it, they picked up mass, giving them size and shape and allowing them to form the atoms that make up you, everything around you and everything in the universe.

This was the theory proposed in 1964 by former grammar school boy Professor Higgs that has now been confirmed.

Without the Higgs field particles would simply whizz around space in the same way as light does.

A boson is a type of sub-atomic particle. Every energy field has a specific particle that governs its interaction with what's around it. 

To try to pin it down, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva smashed together beams of protons – the 'hearts of atoms' – at close to the speed of light, recreating conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

Although they would rapidly decay, they should have left a recognisable footprint. This footprint was found in 2012.

The main difficulty was that the superconducting material would decay into something known as particle-hole pairs.

Large amounts of energy – which are usually needed to excite the Higgs mode - tend to break apart the electron pairs that act as the material's charge.

Professor Frydman and his colleagues solved this problem by using ultra-thin superconducting films of Niobium Nitrite (NbN) and Indium Oxide (InO) as something known as the 'superconductor-insulator critical point.'

This is a state in which recent theory predicted the decay of the Higgs would no longer occur.

In this way, they could still excite a Higgs mode even at relatively low energies.

'The parallel phenomenon in superconductors occurs on a different energy scale entirely - just one-thousandth of a single electronvolt,' Professor Frydman added.

'What's exciting is to see how, even in these highly disparate systems, the same fundamental physics is at work.'

The different approach help solve one of the longstanding mysteries of fundamental physics.

The discovery of the Higgs boson verified the Standard Model, which predicted that particles gain mass by passing through a field that slows down their movement through the vacuum of space.

To try to pin it down, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva smashed together beams of protons – the 'hearts of atoms' – at close to the speed of light, recreating conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

Although they would rapidly decay, the also left a recognisable footprint.

Professor Higgs, 83, has been waiting since 1964 for science to catch up with his ideas about the Higgs boson
Professor Higgs, 83, has been waiting since 1964 for science to catch up with his ideas about the Higgs boson

According to Professor Frydman, observation of the Higgs mechanism in superconductors is significant because it reveals how a single type of physical process behaves under different energy conditions.

'Exciting the Higgs mode in a particle accelerator requires enormous energy levels - measured in giga-electronvolts, or 109 eV,' Professor Frydman says.

'The parallel phenomenon in superconductors occurs on a different energy scale entirely - just one-thousandth of a single electronvolt.

'What's exciting is to see how, even in these highly disparate systems, the same fundamental physics is at work.'

The LHC is due to come back online in March after an upgrade that has given it a big boost in energy.

'With this new energy level, the (collider) will open new horizons for physics and for future discoveries,' CERN Director General Rolf Heuer said in a statement.
'I'm looking forward to seeing what nature has in store for us.'

Cern's collider is buried in a 27-km (17-mile) tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border at the foot of the Jura mountains.

The LHC in Geneva will come back online in March after an upgrade that has given it a big boost in energy
The LHC in Geneva will come back online in March after an upgrade that has given it a big boost in energy

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How will life on earth compare to life for the Mars One pioneers?


To infinity and beyond? Maggie Lieu
To infinity and beyond? Maggie Lieu Photo: Peter Quinnell


From telegraph.co.uk
By Nick Curtis

On a different planet - Nick Curtis imagines a message from 'Martianaut' Maggie Lieu to her parents back at home


Mars Mission, British Martianaut Maggie Lieu’s Log
Day One: Stardate 22/02/2025. 

Hello Mission Control.... Just kidding! Hi mum, hi dad, or should I say earthlings! 
Well, me and Bruce the Australian Martianaut finally touched down beside the Herschel II Strait on the red planet today, the last of 12 pairs to arrive - though as you know it was touch and go. Ten years of training and research almost went down the drain when Google got hit by a massive retrospective tax bill and had to withdraw all its branded sponsorship from the starship at the last minute: 

fortunately Amazon stepped in, on the agreement we install its first matter transference delivery portal (“It’s there before you know it”) here. And rename the ship Bezos 1, of course 
The trip was textbook, with both of us uploading videos on how to apply makeup and bake cupcakes in space direct to the Weibo-spex of our crowdsource funders in China - great practice for The Great Martian Bakeoff on BBC 12 next year (subscribers only). The one hairy moment was a near miss with that Virgin Galactic rocket, Beardie IV, that went AWOL five years ago. We were so close we could see Leonardo diCaprio’s little screaming face pressed against his porthole. And Kim Kardashian’s bum pressed against hers - though it’s looking kinda old now and I hoped we’d seen the last of it.


So what can I tell you? When we landed the others threw us a party with full fat milk, rare beef and waffles (the only official space superfoods since it was discovered that kale and quinoa cause impotence). The landscape is pretty barren, just acres of rolling sand and no one in sight, sort of like Greece after it left the Eurozone and the entire population moved to Germany. Or like the so-called Caliphate after Islamic State finally perfected its time machine and managed to transport itself and all its followers back to the 12th century. 

The temperature outside is about 20c, so a lot cooler than it is at home since the ice caps melted. There’s water here, but not as much as is now covering Indonesia, Holland and Somerset. The atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide so Juan, the Spanish Martianaut, had to keep his suit on when he went out to smoke. He tried to get us all to buy duty free for him in Mexico City spaceport before we left, now that a pack of cigarettes costs 450 Euros in the shops, and they’ve been camouflaged so you can’t find them. 

Maggie Lieu (Guardian)


The construction-droids did a pretty good job building Mars Camp out of the recycled parts of all those closed Tesco Metros. They say we have enough air up here to last 20 years, Earth’s stocks of storable oxygen having increased tenfold when the European Parliament collapsed following the expenses scandal. I still can’t believe that Dasha Putin-Mugabe was claiming for SIX driverless cars while she was EU President, and employing her wife as her accountant. And her being the first transgender Russian lesbian to hold the office, too. 

Speaking of politics, how is life in coalition Britain? Who has the upper hand at the moment? UKIP? Scots Nats? The Greens? or those nutters from Cornwall, Mebion Kernow? Or are they underwater now. And how is young Straw doing now Labour is the smallest party in Parliament, after the New New New Conservatives? Hard to believe it’s three years since the last Lib Dem lost her seat. 

I gather that some things have improved internationally now that Brian Cox has developed his own time machine at the Wowcher-Hawking Institute in Cambridge, and worked out that the entire world can now transport all its waste products back to the Caliphate in the 12th century. 

We can see the Earth from here through the Clinton2020 Telescope that the US president endowed us with after her brief period in office. The joke up here is that she did it to keep a proper eye either on her husband (though he doesn’t get around so much any more, obviously) or on what President Palin is up to. I still can’t believe that she sold Alaska to Russia to pay the compensation bill for the Grand Canyon Fracking Collapse. 

Even through the Clinton2020 the Earth looks pretty small, though at times, when the stars are really bright, we can see the Great Wall 2 ring of laser satellites that China has pointed at Russia to discourage any more “accidental” incursions. 

Our team up here is like a microcosm of human life on earth. Well, up to a point. As you know the French and Italian Martianauts were expelled from the team before lift-off, because of some scandal or other. We weren’t told if it was financial or sexual but a space bra and a data stick with three million Bitcoins on it were found in the airlock. 

The African and Brazilian Martianauts swan around the place as if they PERSONALLY solved the world’s food and energy problems.
And the North Korean guy just sits in the corner, muttering into some device up his sleeve and scowling. All the freeze-dried cheese has gone and he’s looking quite fat, if you get my meaning. 

I don’t get much time to myself, what with work, the non-denominational Sorry Meetings where we apologise in case we’ve accidently offended someone’s beliefs, and the communal space-pilates sessions (the North Korean guy skips those so he may be in line for a compulsory gastric band, as mandated by the Intergalactic Health Organisation). 

I always try and upload the latest Birmingham City Games onto my cortex chip when I feel homesick: I know it's not fashionable, but I think football got better when they replaced the players with robots and the wage bill - and the number of court cases - dropped to zero. I know the electricity bill is massive, but the new Brazilian solar technology should fix that. 

Anyway, got to run now. We’re putting together a bid to have the 2036 Olympics up here. 

Bye, or as we say on Mars - see you on the dark side.

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Mummified monk revealed inside Buddha statue


635603189441117628-mummy-buddha



Excerpt from usatoday.com

The mummified remains of a monk have been revealed inside a nearly 1,000-year old Chinese statue of a Buddha.

The mummy inside the gold-painted papier-mâché statue is believed to be that of Liuquan, a Buddhist master of the Chinese Meditation School who died around the year 1100, researchers said. It's the only Chinese Buddhist mummy to undergo scientific research in the West.

The statue was on display last year at the Drents Museum as part of an exhibit on mummies. It was an cited as an example of self-mummification, an excruciating, years-long process of meditation, starvation, dehydration and poisoning that some Buddhist monks undertook to achieve enlightenment and veneration.

When the exhibit ended in August, a CT scan at the Meander Medical Center in the Netherlands revealed the seated skeleton. Samples taken from organ cavities provided one big surprise: paper scraps printed with ancient Chinese characters indicating the high-status monk may have been worshiped as a Buddha.

A CT scan has revealed a mummified Chinese monk inside a Buddha statue. The remains date back about 1,000 years. Video provided by Newsy Newslook
The finding was first reported in December but did not get wide notice. Irish Archaeology carried a report over the weekend, which apparently started the news ball rolling.

But the revelation is not, as some reports claim, "a shocking discovery," The History Blog notes: "It was known to be inside the statue all along ... that's why it was sent to the Drents Museum in the first place as part of the Mummies exhibition."

The mummy's existence was discovered in 1996 when the statue was being restored in the Netherlands, Live Science writes, explaining what was found, how its age was determined and when the first detailed skeletal imaging was performed.




DNA tests were conducted on bone samples, and the Dutch team plans to publish its finding in a forthcoming monograph.
Researchers still have not determined whether the monk mummified himself, a practice that was also widespread in Japan and that was outlawed in the 19th century. If he did, the process was gruesome, as Ancient Origins explains:
For the first 1,000 days, the monks ceased all food except nuts, seeds, fruits and berries and they engaged in extensive physical activity to strip themselves of all body fat. For the next one thousand days, their diet was restricted to just bark and roots. Near the end of this period, they would drink poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, which caused vomiting and a rapid loss of body fluids. It also acted as a preservative and killed off maggots and bacteria that would cause the body to decay after death.
In the final stage, after more than six years of torturous preparation, the monk would lock himself in a stone tomb barely larger than his body, where he would go into a state of meditation. He was seated in the lotus position, a position he would not move from until he died. A small air tube provided oxygen to the tomb. Each day, the monk rang a bell to let the outside world know he was still alive. When the bell stopped ringing, the tube was removed and the tomb sealed for the final thousand day period of the ritual.
At the end of this period, the tomb would be opened to see if the monk was successful in mummifying himself. If the body was found in a preserved state, the monk was raised to the status of Buddha, his body was removed from the tomb and he was placed in a temple where he was worshiped and revered. If the body had decomposed, the monk was resealed in his tomb and respected for his endurance, but not worshiped
If you find yourself in Budapest before May, the Buddha mummy statue is on display at the Hungarian Natural History Museum.

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