The Embryo Project Encyclopedia is important not just because its contents are interesting themselves, but also because embryology, development, and reproductive medicine influence people who aren’t professional scientists. For example, Lap-Chee Tsui and his research team completed difficult technical work to understand the CFTR gene in humans, and their results helped those affected by cystic fibrosis understand one of the causes of that disease.
Furthermore, people and organizations that aren’t professional scientists influence science. For example, China’s One-Child Policy influenced researcher Zhang Lizhu and her efforts to extend in vitro fertilization to China.
Embryology, development, and reproductive medicine, are part of society, influenced by it and influencing it. People who want to learn how science works can learn much from its social contexts, and people who want to see how policy and ethics do or should interact with science can learn much from the science.
The approach is historical. Articles about people are biographies. Articles about concepts describe the meaning those concepts currently have, and they trace the shifts to those current meanings from past ones. Articles about experiments or policy describe the processes what people went through to craft them.
History is useful not just as a tool to see from where ideas and concepts come from, nor for seeing how past people responded to issues and questions similar to contemporary ones, but also to help us diagnose how former views and concepts and experiments constrain our contemporary questions and views. History, when done well, provides us a tool to understand the past and mold the future.