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TED: Change the world with $100,000

At the TED conference, prizes are given to the founder of SETI, an ocean explorer for Google, and a classical-music trainer, to help them work on their big ideas.

LONG BEACH, Calif--The concept is simple; it's the execution that requires global collaboration and commitment. Not to mention some serious cash.

Along those lines, TED prizes are an award of $100,000 given to a select group of recipients looking to change the world with one idea or "wish." They can use the money as they choose, and at a ceremony here Thursday night, the three winners expressed their hopes for the future.

Jill Tarter, founder of SETI, or the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life, encouraged TED attendees and others to imagine ways that every "earthling" could contribute to a growing database of life beyond our planet or our "cosmic company."

In real terms, Tarter wants kids to be more involved in the experience of searching or studying the universe, and improve the way information from space is stored and shared with astronomers. Her announcement was preceded by a taped introduction from Sir Richard Branson, who is actively pursuing commercial space travel through his Virgin Galactic project.

In the case of Sylvia Earle, a renowned oceanography currently working with National Geographic, she expressed a need to preserve, restore, and protect large areas of the ocean, or "hope spots." She encouraged people to "use all means at your disposal: Films! Expeditions! The Web! More!"

Earle recently partnered with Google Earth to produce Oceans in Google Earth, an underwater expansion of the detailed mapping software that allows users to dive into the deep blue from their desktop. She has a long history of exploring the ocean and developing deep-sea vehicles through Deep Ocean Technologiesand Deep Ocean Engineering. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, who has championed climate change concerns, provided the introduction.

Finally, musician Jose Antonio Abreu, who has worked to bring classical music to tens of thousands of poor children in Venezuela through his El Sistema project, was introduced by legendary music producer Quincy Jones.

Abreu, who was in Venezuela, delivered his wish in Spanish and asked to create a special training program for 50 gifted musicians who are passionate about both their art and social justice. A concert from a youth orchestra followed the event.

If you're interested in contributing to any of the TED prize projects or reading about previous winners, just visit its Web site. In the meantime, stay connected.

Daniel Sieberg reports on technology for CBS News.