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Our Expert Voices conversation on why sex exists.

Why bother with sex when self-cloning would seem more efficient? The advantage: Sexual reproduction in a species, cumulated over all its members, stirs the species' gene pool, rebalancing the genes into different combinations. A species needs a continually rebalanced genetic portfolio to survive over the long term in nature's ever-changing environment. At the cellular level, there are two gamete sizes — big (egg) and tiny (sperm). But why not one intermediate gamete size instead? It's to find one another. Imagine getting separated from your friend at a shopping mall. It's easier if one party stays put while the other does the searching. Likewise, a stationary egg and and mobile sperm can meet up more readily than two gametes of the same size. Hence the origin of the distinction between male and female. The bottom line: The purpose of sex is to mix genes. Species whose members self-clone do not last very long evolutionarily. They are twigs on the tree of life whereas sexually reproducing species form its branches. Other voices in the conversation: Sarah Otto, theoretical biologist, University of British Columbia: Sex is evolution's answer to an ever-changing world Curtis Lively, evolutionary biologist, Indiana University Bloomington: Sex protects populations from parasites

Go deeper

Asymptotic Florida students exposed to COVID no longer have to quarantine

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis during a September news conference in Viera, Fla. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) announced Wednesday an emergency order allowing parents to decide whether their children should quarantine or stay in school if they're exposed to COVID-19, provided they're asymptomatic.

Why it matters: People infected with COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus starting from two days before they display symptoms, according to the CDC. Quarantine helps prevent the virus' spread.

Federal judge: Florida ban on sanctuary cities racially motivated

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday struck down parts of a Florida law aimed at banning local governments from establishing sanctuary city policies, arguing in part that the law is racially motivated and that it has the support of hate groups.

Why it matters: In a 110-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said the law — signed and championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — violates the Constitution's Equal Protection Clause because it was adopted with discriminatory motives.

Biden steps into the breach

Sen. Joe Manchin heads to a meeting with President Biden today. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden ramped up the pressure on his fellow Democrats Wednesday, calling a series of lawmakers to the White House in the hope of ending infighting and getting them in line.

Why it matters: Divisions within the party are threatening to derail Biden's top priorities. After several weeks of letting negotiations play out, the president is finally asserting his power to ensure his own party doesn't block his agenda.