For thousands of years people have been using glass transition processes and glasses in their everyday life. For hundreds of years researchers have been studying the glass transition phenomenon. However, understanding the microscopic mechanism underlying the tremendous slowing down of structural relaxation remains one of the main challenges in current condensed matter physics.
This talk will present an overview of new ideas and experimental results formulated and obtained during the last two decades. It appears that the glass transition on a molecular level actually occurs at temperatures much above the conventional glass transition temperature. Understanding of this important point shifted significantly the focus of current research and resulted in deeper microscopic understanding of the glass transition. In the past decade it has been realized that the glass transition is actively used in nature. In particular, living organisms use the glass transition to survive in extreme environmental conditions. A role of the glass transition in biology and in preservation of biological molecules and organisms will be discussed at the end of the talk.