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A Cone of Silence is a field or zone wherein the sound of the human voice was electronically distorted so that recording and amplifying devices could not reproduce it effectively or clearly. It was also referred to as a "sound-deadening field". The size of a "cone of silence" depended partly on the strength of the electronic impulse broadcast, but for practical purposes it was usually a small area about three to four meters in diameter.
The purpose of the cone of silence was fairly obvious in an aristocratic society given to Byzantine refinements of palace intrigue. According to the Oral History, there were more than twenty cones of silence in the main Harkonnen palace on Giedi Prime, and it was in one of these that Mentat Piter de Vries and Baron Vladimir discussed an unsuccessful assassination attempt — the famous episode of the poisoned kindjal — on Duke Leto Atreides. It is known that the Baron Harkonnen had once threatened an emissary of Emperor Shaddam IV, Count Hasimir Fenring, in a cone of silence at his palace.
Behind the Scenes Edit
The Dune Encyclopedia outlines a possible background for the Cone of Silence. It states that originally, the cone of silence was developed by Ixian technicians in the fourth millennium, but it apparently proved to be fairly easy for non-Ixian electronic technicians to reproduce. Nevertheless, the Great Houses would apparently hire Ixian masters, likely under the supervision of the House Master of Assassins, to inspect and refurbish the auditory facilities — both recorders and cones — of a residential palace.