LONG BEACH, California, February 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- TED, the nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading, kicks off its annual U.S. conference today in Long Beach, California This year's program includes a range of explorers, storytellers, photographers, scientific pioneers, visionaries and provocateurs from all parts of the globe -- and for the first time, features sessions guest-curated by innovators Bill Gates and Juan Enriquez. Themed "The Rediscovery of Wonder," TED2011 will take place starting today through March 4.

"This year's speakers and performers are diverse, inspiring and, in many cases, groundbreaking," said TED curator Chris Anderson. "Recent tectonic events in the world have reminded all of us of how technology, imagination and courage are helping to shape history. It's the perfect backdrop to a week spent immersing ourselves in the rediscovery of wonder. We can hardly wait for the conference -- and to start sharing ideas from the conference on TED.com throughout the coming year."

Speakers at the TED2011 conference include:

-- The people behind two of the biggest scientific discoveries of the past year: Felisa Wolfe-Simon, who found arsenic-based life forms on Earth, and physicist Aaron O'Connell, the first person to experimentally induce and measure quantum effect in the motion of a human-made object -- Julie Taymor, director of The Lion King, Frida, Across the Universe, and now Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark -- Thomas Heatherwick, architect of the headline-stealing Seed Cathedral at the Shanghai Expo's UK Pavilion -- Founders of the Handspring Puppet Company, who designed the magnificently life-like horse puppets that star in the show War Horse -- just transferring from London to Broadway -- Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi -- Wadah Khanfar, head of Al Jazeera -- Documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, whose latest film, The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, was the first to sell at Sundance -- Iconic film critic Roger Ebert, whose battle with cancer has given his work a new life -- Explorer Sarah Marquis, who's making her way from Siberia to Australia on foot -- Musicians Bobby McFerrin, Jason Mraz, Antony and the Johnsons, Maya Beiser and more...

The TED2011 conference will gather more than 1,350 attendees at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center to watch more than 50 main-stage talks and performances from some of the world's leading thinkers across a wide range of disciplines, as well as another 50 or so short talks, demos and informal TED U talks. The conference will be streamed live to several thousand people around the globe, including to events affiliated with independently organized TEDx events. At the same time, a group of 500 people will gather at the sold-out TEDActive conference in Palm Springs, California, to exchange ideas, inspire one another, participate in an engaging onsite program, and experience a live simulcast of TED2011.

On March 2, the 2011 TED Prize winner, French photographer JR, will reveal his wish live from the main stage at 5:30pm PST. The entire TED Prize session will be streamed free over the web; sign up at tedprize.org for more details. The TED Prize is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and "One Wish to Change the World." Designed to leverage the TED community's exceptional array of talent and resources, the TED Prize leads to collaborative initiatives with far-reaching impact. In the same session, last year's winner, chef and advocate Jamie Oliver, will share his plan to fulfill the wish he made to create a healthy food movement.

At the conference, TED's award-winning video team will be editing talks direct from stage to share with the world, through its award-winning TEDTalks podcast series, which sees up to 1 million page views a day around the world. Look for TEDTalks from this conference starting next week and throughout the coming year.

A number of exciting brands and companies have partnered with TED to share ideas and foster an atmosphere of innovation. This year's partners include Adobe, Al Jazeera, Allstate Insurance, Autodesk, AT&T, Banco Santander Brazil, Bing, BlackBerry, Cengage Learning, Delta, DialSmith, Direct Brands Inc., Walt Disney Imagineering, the Dow Chemical Company, Datran Media, Jawbone, the Kauffman Foundation, the Knight Foundation, GE, Genentech, Goldstar, GM & OnStar, Google, Grameen America, Gucci, Grey Advertising, Hyundai, IDEO, Lincoln, Lynda.com, NewEgg, Nokia, Museum Authority of Qatar/Mathaf Museum of Arab Art, Pfizer, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Pioneer Portfolio, SyFy Channel, Shell, Sony, Steelcase, Stone Brewing Co., The V Foundation Wine Celebration, Target, Walmart, ChocoVivo, Mari's Brownies, Icebreaker, ProFlowers, PR Newswire, Workspring, TCHO, and Jack Spade.

The complete TED2011 speakers program can be found online here (http://conferences.ted.com/TED2011/program/guide.php).