Originally posted by sonhouse
That is a LOT of work! The thing is, if you do it, what can you do, who would hire you without a degree? Also, if you actually gutted it out and finished the whole thing, what would it be equivalent to? Masters degree? I don't think you could call it Phd work when there is nothing original going on. Is he saying an MS in physics is not as good as his formul ...[text shortened]... but not as good as a Phd?
What would you say to a prospective employer? I was T'Hoovin it?
That's a lot of work but people that really want it and can put their brains into it should do it if they are apt enough. There are some physicists that this kind of thing in their time just because they loved physics so much (Feynman,Schwinger,Landau and some more...). I'm not saying it is easy but it can be done.
I think that if one do all of that work it should equivalent to an Ms. Not in the sense of having a thesis published but in the sense of work done and knowledge gained. A really good Ms. 't Hooft himself says that in some point you'll have to take a degree so to get respectability and to hang around people that can guide you and discuss yours and their ideas. I don't think he's saying that an Ms in physics is not as good as his formula what he's saying is that if you want to be a good theoretical physicist than you have to start early and dipping right away in the serious stuff. I agree with that.
Now what would one say to a potential employer after studying the 't Hooft way and not having a degree in physics? Well when you go to a physics interview you can be rest assured that the potential employer will try to get as much of what you know, what you can do and what do you want to do. I think it is preferable to have at least an undergraduate degree in physics if one thinks about starting to do research right after completing this study (but after this study it is pretty safe to say that you would be a piece of cake) and/or to publish some results. So you would have to do the 't Hooft syllabus and also read some modern articles and try to publish something worthwhile based on them. People around the world know that there are some Ms's and Phd's that have no worth whatsoever and always try to realize in which side of the trench people are when they go for an interview. So Id say that a degree is a necessary condition but by no means a necessary one for one to do some real research. If you want you have some examples of people that did just that. First off is this guy John Moffatt he is mentioned in 't Hooft's site. He was a painter when he decide to work on physics. He studied and after some time turned in a person that was awarded a Phd on physics without having a previous degree. But for him to be accepted to do the Phd he had to prove that he knew a large good part of physics and also that he could make some new one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Moffat_(physicist) . And now for exhibit B: This guy was studying for his post-doc when suddenly the faculty realized that he had no Phd to begin with. That was a bit embarrassing so he had to write a phd thesis he wrote one but now the problem was that the guys on Chemistry department couldn't understand most of what was on in the thesis. Then came the Math department guys that said that we would be more that happy to award thys gentleman a Phd under our department for this work if you don't want to. Then of course the chemistry guys awarded him the Phd http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onsager . The last guy I'll mention is Julian Schwinger. By 16/17 he head already oublished his first article on physics. And it was on QM. And by 19 he had already written his phd thesis that only was awarded to him by 21 due to bureaucracy. A Nobel prize winner and one of the greatest physicists of the last century. Yes, this is a very hard job but that's the way to go if you really want to leave your mark on physics. All of these giants had to do it so why not us mere mortals. I mean even Newton, Gauss and Einstein had to work really, really hard to get what they get so why would us get away with just some flimsy notions?
The other way to see the resources posted is that people can get free access to very good material on physics and math and not just repeat what's said on pop-science book without really understanding the why and how of what's being said. But if one is happy with the latter approach he hasn't got to do this program. Of course he'll never be a good theoretical physicist.
One piece of advice I can offer is to download of Richard Fitzpatrick's books. They are deeply pedagogical and cover some good material.