Firefighters, police and soldiers don't have many good options when they want to breach a door: blowtorches and lock picks are usually slow, while battering rams, explosives and guns aren't exactly subtle. The US Air Force and EMPI recently crafted a far better solution, though. Their TEC Torch creates a brief but super-hot (5,000F) metal vapor jet that cuts through steel in less than a second, making short work of virtually any lock. In some ways, it's like Star Wars' Qui-Gon Jinn cutting through doors with a lightsaber -- it's just faster and less dramatic.
The torch was originally built for special forces that wanted a simple, handheld breaching tool. However, it should also be very useful for civilians. EMPI sees firefighters using it to get into burning buildings, and it could also come in handy for everything from salvage operations to cutting underwater cables. No matter what, it's clear that metal alone isn't much of a deterrent to authorities who want in.